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A groundbreaking study of ten difficult years in the life of America’s most important newspaper.
From false stories about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to growing competition from online and twenty-four-hour cable news, the first decade of the twenty-first century was not particularly kind to the New York Times. In this groundbreaking study of the recent life and times of America’s most important newspaper, Daniel R. Schwarz describes the transformation of the Times as it has confronted not only its various scandals and embarrassments but also the rapid rise of the Internet and blogosphere, the ensuing decline in circulation and print advertising, and the change in what readers want and how they want to get it.
Drawing on more than forty one-on-one interviews with past and present editors (including every living executive editor), senior figures on the business and financial side, and publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr., Schwarz discusses virtually every aspect of the contemporary Times, from columnists to cultural coverage. He explains how, in response to continuous online updating and twenty-four-hour all-news radio and television, the Times has become much more like a daily magazine than a traditional newspaper, with increased analysis (as opposed to reporting) of the news as well as value-added features on health, travel, investing, and food.
After carefully tracing the rise of the Times’s website, Schwarz asks whether the Times can survive as a print newspaper, whether it can find a business model to support its vast print and online newsgathering operation, and whether the Sulzberger family can survive as controlling owners. He also asks whether the Times, in its desperate effort to survive, has abandoned its quality standards by publishing what he calls “Timeslite” and “Timestrash.”
Writing as a skeptical outsider and devoted lifelong reader, Schwarz concludes that the Times is the worst newspaper in the world—except for all the others. Endtimes? is a must read for Times readers as well as anyone interested in the radical change in print and broadcast media in the rapidly evolving Internet Age.
“[A] balanced grappling with big issues and tumultuous changes in journalism and at The Times between 1999 and 2009.” — CHOICE
“Fascinating … Schwarz raises many questions about the future of printed newspapers and about how Americans will stay informed about news.” — Charleston Gazette-Mail
“Endtimes? is a product of brain and heart—passion for its subject, yes, but also clear-eyed critique of that subject’s strengths and weaknesses.” — Huntsville Times
“Schwarz … is diligent in his research and his interviews … He puts the Times on the couch and gives us a very thorough psychoanalysis.” — Washington Independent Review of Books
“Struggling to maintain its journalistic preeminence in a world of accelerating change, the New York Times has often stumbled, but not yet fallen. Scrupulously researched, judiciously argued, and accessibly written, Endtimes? provides a sympathetically critical account of the Times’s strengths and weaknesses as it responds to the economic, technological, cultural, and political challenges of our day. No one alarmed by the threatened survival of quality journalism can afford to ignore this trenchant book.” — Martin Jay, author of The Virtues of Mendacity: On Lying in Politics
“Daniel Schwarz’s lucid, well-researched, and passionate book reminded me of the saying that the best criticism comes from admirers who are willing to tell us our faults. Benefiting from his own extensive interviews with key players in the Times’s story, including Max Frankel, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., and Howell Raines, Schwarz offers a complex, judicious history of a prominent American cultural institution as it responds to a period of crises and turmoil in print journalism. Pulling no punches, Schwarz laments the current version of the paper’s fluff, lack of ‘gatekeeping’ and news judgment, and failure to stand up to government. At the same time, he appreciates how the Times remains, after more than a century, a preeminent source of information. This is a lover’s quarrel at its best.” — Daniel Morris, Purdue University
“Dan Schwarz is a knowing reader and a master teacher. Endtimes? shows that he is a great student of journalism as well. He takes us on a roller-coaster ride from the era of the New York Times’s cultural ascendancy to the current financial crisis over its very existence. And he looks into the Times’s future too. Everyone who cares about the news in America should read this book.” — Barry Strauss, author of The Spartacus War
“Dan Schwarz writes with terrific energy about an important subject: the threat posed by today’s flood of information to the integrity and even the existence of what is arguably the world’s most influential newspaper. Not every reader will agree with his criticisms of the paper’s leadership or his prescriptions for its survival. But every reader will be deeply informed and sharply challenged by his well-documented narrative and his provocative argument.” — Steven Knapp, The George Washington University
Daniel R. Schwarz is Frederic J. Whiton Professor of English Literature and Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow at Cornell University. His previous books include In Defense of Reading: Teaching Literature in the Twenty-First Century and Broadway Boogie Woogie: Damon Runyon and the Making of New York City Culture.
Table of Contents
1. Crisis and Turmoil at the New York Times, 1999-2009
2. The Way We Were: A Brief History of the Times with a Focus on Major Events
3. Looking Backward: The (Failed) Raines Reformation
4. Digital Revolution: www.nytimes.com
5. Media Economics 101: The Business Crises of the New York Times
6. Counter Reformation of The Way We Are (I): New Bearings and Continuity in the Contemporary Times Under Keller, 2003-2009
7. The Way We Are (II): The 2003-2009 Times Under Keller
8. Dramatic Changes in Sunday’s Magazines: Competing for Attention Among Myriad Reading and Leisure Choices
9. The Challenge to the First Amendment: The Judith Miller Saga and the Story of Domestic Spying
10. Struggling with its Ethnic Heritage: Has the Times Waged War Against the Jews?