Bob Franken

The New York Times Bad Taste About Food

Sometimes the choice of what is news reveals way than the stories themselves. Sometimes they give us a clear look at the social perspective of those who make journalistic decisions. The front pages of our two so-called “Papers of Record” gave us a particularly revealing comparison of what their editors considered important, at least on Tuesday.

In the New York Times, the headline was “Lavish Door to Food Is Shut in Magazine World”. In the same spot in the Washington Post it was “Identity Crisis Accompanies Va. Family’s Financial Slide” The Times was mourning the loss of Gourmet Magazine, which is being shut down after “—a rich history—that lived and sold the high life”. The Post meanwhile was chronicling a middle class family that has suddenly been thrust by the economy into homeless and “depths they had never imagined”, The quotes are from each article.

What a juxtaposition! These were just single news articles, but their placement on the front page speak (or in this case write) volumes about what the editors at the New York Times consider important. A magazine devoted to finest foods versus the spreading plague of those who are desperately seeking their sustenance from food banks. Not that the Washington Post always gets its journalistic priorities straight, but on this Tuesday it kicked the stuffing (pardon the pun) out of the Times.

Why does this matter? Because it’s symptomatic of the larger problem. When, arguably, we should all be rallying around those who need help, and finding ways to share the wealth, those who have too much of it, continue to hoard it and spend their time feeding their connoisseur indulgences , ignoring the growing crowds who must forage in the gutter. And, as we see, far too often, those who control our media wallow in the same unconscionable elitism—that is the ones who haven’t driven their papers into bankruptcy.

At the same time the fat cats are busy slinking around sneaky novel ways to accumulate even more money, by dreaming up new clever investment gimmicks and subterfuges. They continue to be hellbent on giving truth to the old song that “Them that Gots Gets” while everyone else gets the shaft.

Does he passing of “Gourmet” deserve coverage. Absolutely—perhaps in the business section of the paper, or the foodie part—as opposed to the front page. That’s where we need the reports about how more and more people are often desperate to have any food at all. It’s not where to place the trivial loss of a magazine, particularly one in today’s environment that chronicled the “Let Them Eat Cake” mindset that has obviously taken over those who decide what’s important at the New York Times.

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