March 27, 2004


Raines trashes the Times:

Howell Raines, the former editor of the New York Times, has unleashed a ferocious assault on the newspaper he worked at for 25 years, describing a newsroom characterised by conflict, "lethargy and smug complacency".

In a lengthy article in the next edition of Atlantic Monthly, Mr Raines is unsparing in his criticism. "The tendency towards mañana journalism can infect newcomers as if it were carried in the air ducts, like Legionnaires' disease," he says. "Thus the pernicious world view - 'it's not news until we say it's news' - gets inculcated with amazing speed." He repeatedly professes his affection for the newspaper that he ran briefly before being fired last year after a reporter, Jayson Blair, was found to have invented or copied elements of at least three-dozen stories.

He maintains, however, that the newspaper needs substantive reform to get off "its glide path toward irrelevance". He writes: "I felt on the day I became executive editor and on the day I drove away from West Forty-third Street for the last time that the Times badly needs to raise the level of its journalism and to do so quickly in order to survive."

Get a blog, Howell!

UPDATE. Noting Raines’ use of the phrase “manana journalism”, reader Ken Summers asks: “Who’d have thought that liberal extraordinaire Raines would casually throw out such a racial slur?” Hey, he’s only following Arthur Sulzberger’s example.

Posted by Tim Blair at March 27, 2004 12:41 AM

It's one thing for a low level staffer to engage in such a rant, but Raines was in charge. Why didn't he do something, like, you know, "raise the level of journalism" or something?

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at March 27, 2004 at 12:46 AM

I have been a daily reader of the NY Times for 25 years. There was a noticable drop in journalistics standards almost to the day that Raines took charge. There was much leftist editorializing injected into news stories. And there were many more front page articles that were put there to drive minor news stories.

The NY Times also became a better paper the day Raines left. There is still a lot change that is needed to restore the NY Times to it's former greatness.

Now if only Sulzberger Jr. would leave as publisher some real progress could be made.

Posted by: Reid of America at March 27, 2004 at 01:25 AM

Yes, the new NYT is doomed to irrelevance if they don't start publishing more stories about Martha Burk and Augusta that the public's been thirsting for.

Posted by: Malcolm J. at March 27, 2004 at 01:27 AM

Give him the Arthur Levitt Prize for discovering after you leave that the place is in shambles and you forgot to do anything about it.

Posted by: Gary S at March 27, 2004 at 03:38 AM

Can't Raines and Clarke get together and prove that if Bush had just listened to them (and Jayson Blair, et al) 9/11 wouldn't have happened? Strange how two such brilliant minds can be so close to the center of events with so much power and not be able to effect any useful outcome. One might almost be tempted to think they had been conspired against. Certainly there is no evidence of culpability on their part.

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at March 27, 2004 at 05:22 AM

Man, this thing goes crazy if you type one of those squiggle n's (ALT 164 on the keypad). What's mi*ana journalism? It sounds good if it involves a glide path.

Posted by: Ron Hardin at March 27, 2004 at 05:49 AM

Mañana: Spanish for "tomorrow", plays off the old stereotype of Mexicans as lazy or not caring about any type of urgency. Nothing is too important to wait for one's convenience the next day.

Posted by: Gamer at March 27, 2004 at 07:14 AM

Who'd have thought that liberal extraordinaire Raines would casually throw out such a racial slur?

Posted by: Ken Summers at March 27, 2004 at 02:24 PM

How out of touch is Howell Raines?

"on the day I drove away from West Forty-third Street for the last time"--

Um. Who the hell drives in New York? Most New Yorkers take mass transit or walk. SMART commuters take the bus or the train. Stupid commuters drive.

Oh. And then we have those super-wealthy types who are driven by other people, who generally have no concept of what us simple folk do.

I expect there's your reason why the Augusta brouhaha was center-stage for so long: Raines hasn't got a clue.

Posted by: Meryl Yourish at March 27, 2004 at 04:10 PM

Thank God NY has tough anti-gun laws! Otherwise I'd be worried for all those NY Times employees with such a disgruntled employee out there on the streets.

Posted by: Lewis at March 27, 2004 at 08:20 PM