Times to Readers: Give Up

February 16, 2009 § Leave a comment


Book news of the day: Alfred Knopf is dead at 90; noted writer stabbed in Bejiing; fatwa on Rushdie turns 20.

The stabbed writer was only wounded and Rushdie is alive and thriving. As for Alfred Knopf, making it to 90 isn’t so bad.

Still, it made me feel kind of hopeless, along with all the financial articles in the paper today. The Times is clearly preparing for deep shit, reeling in more experts, finding new angles, shaping their ignorance (which we all share) with writerly elegance.

The subtext of the day’s stories: telling this is our job. We’re lucky to have one. So listen up. Yes, the news is bad. In fact, it’s worse. Sorry, but you have to pay attention. We’re going to tell you how bad it could get, from five different experts, and how bad it looks to two noted forecasters of the crisis. Isn’t that cool? It’s hard on us, you know, because reporting depends on change, and this shit ain’t going anywhere. I mean, yeah, they’ll be more of it, but that’s kind of the same, isn’t it?

So pay attention. It’s not our fault we have to tell you over and over. You listened to Bernie Madoff and his ilk for ten years, and it was all the same shit every day, up, up, up, no change; you just thought it was change. Now it’s the same too, just worse. We’re Times reporters; we can take it. But you have to listen. Keep buying the paper. C’mon. This is our job.

Just as an intellectual exercise it’s interesting, isn’t it? You liked Titanic. I mean, the story was obvious: ship hits iceberg, begins to sink, continues to sink, is sunk. Where’s the suspense? But you liked it. You weren’t sure who was going to die and who’d make it  out. We promise, some will make it out of this. Maybe us. Maybe you. And if you don’t, we’ll print your obit, if your survivors submit your stats with the requisite fee.


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