In a week that saw the Washington Post bought out for a tenth of its value ten years ago, the NYTimes put on a quiet but virtuoso display of journalism in Sunday’s “paper”. Not one or two “must read” stories but five. Now below is a discussion of why hitting this Quinfecta is important. Meantime, here is the break down of the power stories.
Government Running Awry
Being positioned at the epicenter of government awry cause and effect, the NYTimes is perfectly situated to “get” the story. For the past 4-5 years, the NYTimes has built up the case that Federal Government, aided by a blundering push from the Supreme Court, is now effectively bought out. In conjunction with that story is the corollary that the efficient and effective running of capital markets requires the application of the Rule of Law. But in fact, Wall Street and the elite Financial community have effectively bought out key exceptions to the Rule of Law – no one on the Street gets indicted or sent to jail for their increasingly brazen financial misdeeds. In fact no one on the Street get banned from positions of fiduciary trust or management responsibility based on their record of financial misdeeds. Finally, no one on the Street has to account for any levels of compensation in their organizations, regardless of how poorly they are correlated with actual performance.
In Sunday’s NYTimes, the first story once again advances the notion that Washington’s financial regulation has been pre-empted and effectively nullified by the Financial sector through campaign financing, lobbying spending and the prospect of future jobs in and for the financial industry. So regulations like financial court cases get spun out diluted and either lost or tokenized with the complicit indulgence of Congress. The NYTimes advances this case in the rush among freshmen Congressmen to get positions on the House Congressional Financial Committee. The parallel is obvious to how Defense budgets cannot be cut because major program budgets are spread over every state while the promise of downstream lobbying jobs are keyed to votes and performance in Congress. The second NYTimes story describes how personal wealth may be a factor in choosing Larry Summers to be the next Federal Reserve Chairman – very telling again of the pervasive role of big money especially in Presidential financial executive/Cabinet appointments.
Israel’s Intransigence on Settlements
Perhaps because of Israel’s claim to be the only functioning Mideastern democracy and the strong parallel between the US and Israel poltical fragmentation due to deeply religious and also deeply conservative factions, the Times has been doing the background stories that make the current Israeli-Palestine negotiations more understandable. Thus when Israel once again plays the more settlements card, one can understand its effect – virtually poisoning the well on upcoming negotiations. This pattern of intransigence can be seen in this Times Chronology.
Autism has gone from 1/300 cases in 2000 to 1/50 cases in the US for 2013 [but see the caveats here]. Thus the story on recent research linking some autism to cancer genes is definitely of interest. More helpfully, the NYTimes has comprehensive coverage and news stories for autism in its Health section.
Fixing the Fannies
Recently this reviewer counted the number of stories in just the Dealbook section of the NYTimes, and during an admittedly JPMorgan and Fabrice Torre influenced week, more than 1/3 of the stories were about financial malfeasance, regulation delay or reforms thwarted. The excellent Gretchen Morgenson story on Fixing the Fannies and the steep difficulties faced by mortgage financing reform is both eye opening and adds to the litany.
Use of Web 2 Media
And as a bonus today, the NYTimes has this fascinating video and story about Bull vs Condor Fighting in Bolivia. This is another example of how the the paper with All the News Fit to Print has become a savvy user of Web media. In fact if you check the Related Articles in the footer below you will see how often the NYTimes has been noted as a intelligent user of graphic designer smart UX- User Experiences. The NYTimes is certainly well ahead of the Washington Post or other major US newspapers in that regard.
In fact it is is the NYTimes web savvy that makes the paper now one of the best news sources on the Web. Unlike say CNN which produces attention-distracting special Web and TV effects [ which Jon Stewart’s the Daily Show lampoons mercilessly]. These stage heavy UI tools are often a hindrance at getting information to the viewer. In contrast, the NYTimes has shown Tufte like Visual Communication astuteness. But with Jeff Bezos at the head, the NYTimes will soon have a Web Media smart competitor who also has Kindle and other media distribution chops that the NYTimes has not exactly excelled in over the past 5 or more years.
Why Quinfecta Is Important
The Quinfecta is important because if the NYTimes produces another Quinfecta day of excellent stories in the next couple of weeks, this reader will likely convert from being a paid Economist or NewScientist reader to a paid NYTimes reader. I suspect others may make that decision as well. However, this still leaves the Times with the problem that a superior salesman with consummate distribution channels and fabulous Cloud-powered services has entered the new news media fray.