The New York Times' moniker, “the Old Gray Lady,” is a misnomer. The newspaper is not lady-like in its efforts to deliver to its readers, “All the news that's fit to print.” Rather, the nickname, to me, is reflective of the paper’s strident reputation and the ink that rubs off on its readers’ clothing.
In its long and distinguished tenure as a premier newspaper, The New York Times has been one of the most ardent defenders of the First Amendment, which “ ... allows an individual to express [himself, herself or itself] through publication and dissemination.” Founded in 1851, the paper has been led mostly by senior members of the Ochs and Sulzberger families.
As a stubborn baby boomer, I have not made the transition from print to computer in satisfying my daily appetite for the news. The New York Times is my paper of choice, even after years as an investment banker and businessperson. The paper affords me the most complete round up of news and opinion (and sometimes a dangerous combination of the two).
I believe it is important to understand my enemy and the way he thinks. For those of you who may not have read my essays and commentary on PolicyMic, I do lean right. In order to effectively assimilate The New York Times each day, one must understand that 99.99% (my estimate) of the paper’s employees lean the other way. And so, their reporting often reflects that political preference, even though the paper's employees insist that the reporting is balanced.
Arthur Brisbane the public editor of The New York Times, wrote a piece on May 22, 2012 suggesting that the paper's coverage of the conservative candidates in this year’s election was more critical than the coverage of President Obama. Brisbane got his inspiration for the article from readers who wrote in about the paper's biased coverage. His response was a mild rebuke, but he indicated that the paper should be more focused on Obama’s performance now that the general election is in full swing.
The point to be made is that reporting should be factual, especially relating to politics, so that readers can use the data provided to make their own decisions and not be unduly influenced. Opinions belong on the editorial and op-ed pages.
How should one read The New York Times to obtain the maximum relevant information each day? When I first open the paper, I immediately go to the Arts section and take on the world famous crossword puzzle. The puzzle starts out very easy on Monday, and becomes more difficult each successive day culminating with the Saturday puzzle, which is always a bear. If I even finish the puzzle, I may spend an hour mulling over the clues and testing my answers. The Sunday puzzle is great fun, but it usually has a degree of difficulty equal to Thursday.
Next, I go to the Sports section. I like to keep up on the progress of the New York teams. Then, to the Business section, which has improved over the years. It is no match for The Wall Street Journal, but the section often has interesting commentary amid the news stories.
Now, it is time for section A. The cover page is my first stop. It has the most important stories of the day as determined by the editors. The right and left hand margins are generally the most significant articles and should always be consulted. Then, I do something many would consider odd: I go to the back of section A and begin to read the paper from rear to front.
The New York Times columnists, with the exception of David Brooks (the token conservative at the paper), are very liberal. The stories written are very informative, deeply insightful and I disagree with virtually every word I read. Nevertheless, I obtain great perspective about the liberal spin on nearly every important issue. On a related note, the Letters to the Editor, which are usually tilted far to the left, are insightful as well. In these letters, readers respond primarily to columns and op-ed articles. By the way, I have written many letters to The New York Times and have had 50 published by the paper. I was able to accomplish this only by camouflaging my true feelings about the issues I wrote about.
The next important section contains the editorial columns, where the writers express the views of the paper on important issues. It is absolutely required reading with the understanding that it will always be tilted to the left and advocate liberal social perspectives.
I then read the obituaries (sounds morbid, but we should all celebrate the lives of great people who have passed on); the Metropolitan section, New York City news and gossip; the National section, which has most of the political news; and the International section, which covers world events. I spend little time on any of the other sections.
I think youngsters and oldsters would greatly improve their lives by reading a paper like The New York Times each day. Being well versed in current events makes an individual more interesting, well rounded and attractive.