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NY Times Public Editor Criticizes NY Times Magazine Covers

originalLooks like we weren’t the only ones puzzled by The New York Times Magazine’s Hillary Clinton cover. Margaret Sullivan, the Times’ public editor, wasn’t a fan of it either. In a new column, Sullivan took the magazine to task for the Clinton cover and one featuring Wendy Davis, the Texas senator:

I did not find the Clinton cover illustration sexist but simply bizarre, lacking the sophisticated execution one expects from The Times Magazine. The Amy Chozick article it illustrated was an intriguing idea, exploring all the connections in the ‘Planet Hillary’ universe.

The Wendy Davis article presents a different, more serious question: When an article sets out to examine gender bias, how can it avoid perpetuating that bias along the way? Despite its well-intentioned efforts, this piece managed to trip over a double standard with its detailed examination of Ms. Davis’s biography, including her role in raising her two daughters.

While the illustration of Clinton was certainly weird, the headline of the Davis cover “Can Wendy Davis Have it All?” was ridiculous.

Lauren Kern, a deputy editor for the Times Magazine, told Sullivan they knew it was a “charged phrase.” “We asked the question about whether Davis can ‘have it all’ in part because her critics are saying she can’t,” she said. “She can’t make a tough choice — one that many women and men have to make — about temporarily prioritizing education or career over family, without being criticized for it later.”

Thomas Middelhoff to Leave NY Times Board

Thomas Middelhoff GThomas Middelhoff, the former head of German media giant Bertelsmann, is stepping down from his spot on The New York Times Company’s board. Middelhoff has been on the Times’ board since 2003.

“Thomas has served with great distinction as an outstanding director of The New York Times Company for over a decade,” said Arthur Sulzberger Jr., chairman of the Times company and publisher of the Times, in a statement. “While I regret that he will not seek re-election, I am immensely grateful for his years of service, his advice and counsel, and his dedication in helping to steer the Times through a transformative period. We will all miss him.”

The Times said that all of its other directors — 13 in all — intend to seek re-election.

James Franco Writes NY Times Op-Ed About Shia LaBeouf Because Everything is Terrible

Here is how you know everything is terrible: James Franco — a man paid millions to play pretend — wrote a New York Times op-ed supporting Shia LaBeouf — another man who gets paid millions to play pretend.

LaBeouf, as you probably know, has taken to behaving like a jackass lately. He started by plagiarizing a comic written by Dan Clowes. Then when he was called out for plagiarism, he plagiarized his apologies. LaBeouf’s antics culminated in a “performance art piece” which involved him staring at people while wearing a bag over his head. In summary: LaBeouf has been acting like a spoiled child. It’s best to just ignore him, because his life isn’t that bad and he’ll (hopefully) realize that eventually.

Franco being Franco, simply cannot do that. Instead, Franco — who is just as annoying as LaBeouf — described LaBeouf’s art as “a young man in a very public profession tries to reclaim his public persona.” Franco added that LaBeouf’s behavior is basically everyone else’s fault but his own:

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Carlos Slim to Double Stake in NY Times

Carlos Slim, widely known as the second richest person in the world, is a big fan of The New York Times. Or rather, what the Times can do for his wallet. That’s why he’s upping his stake in the company.

By the end of 2014, Slim is expected to exercise stock warrants that he obtained in 2009 via a $250 million loan to the paper. If he does, Slim will double his stake in the Times to as much as 19 percent. Slim, who owns eight percent of Times stock, is currently the company’s second largest stock owner.

Not that Slim needs the warrants. As Bloomberg News notes, his deal with the Times has been great for him already:

Even leaving out the warrants, Slim has booked a profit from his loan to the newspaper. The Times paid Slim back in 2011, including a 12 percent premium for early payment. The loan’s annual interest rate of 14 percent was the highest the company had paid on debt dating back to at least 1995.

Newspapers Start Jeter’s Farewell Tour

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Derek Jeter, everyone’s favorite New York Yankee, is retiring after next season. ”I will remember it all: the cheers, the boos, every win, every loss, all the plane trips, the bus rides, the clubhouses, the walks through the tunnel and every drive to and from the Bronx,” wrote Jeter, in a heartfelt note on Facebook. “I have achieved almost every personal and professional goal I have set. I have gotten the very most out of my life playing baseball, and I have absolutely no regrets.”

Jeter also thanked George Steinbrenner, the Steinbrenner family, the Yankee organization, his family and fans. Now the city’s newspapers are thanking him back. The Post, the Daily News, the Staten Island Advance and more dedicated all or parts of their covers to the Yankee captain.

The Jeter farewell tour has already started. So brace yourself, grab some tissues and enjoy the ride. While it lasts.

See below for more papers featuring Jeter.

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Reporters in Sochi Won’t Leave Gay Russians Alone

The Sochi Olympics — so far — have only two narratives:  What’s the deal with Bob Costas eyes and how the Russian government oppresses its gay citizens. While the former is extremely interesting, its the latter that journalists are truly in love with. In fact, there are so many reporters wanting to interview gay Russians that they’ve become more annoyed with the press than with the government.

As The New Republic notes, pretty much every story about gays in Sochi involves Mayak, the city’s popular gay bar. Julia Ioffe of TNR went to Mayak to experience the madness first hand and — of course — encountered a sea of fellow reporters.

“We’ve given over 200 interviews in the last month,” Mayak’s co-owner, Andrey Tanichev, told Ioffe. The other Mayak owner told USA Today, “We just want Western journalists to leave us alone.” Unfortunately, that’s not likely to happen until the Games are over.

Now let’s all recognize the irony of two reporters going to Mayak to write stories about how there are too many reporters at Mayak.

Newark Star-Ledger Regrets Endorsing Chris Christie

Chris Christie’s 2014 is off to a rough start. He has already been accused of being involved in more than enough political scandals, but now The Newark Star-Ledger, which had endorsed Christie for governor, has announced that it “regrets” supporting him.

Tom Moran, editor of the Star-Ledger’s editorial page, wrote today that the paper “blew” its endorsement. Moran explained that the paper knew Christie was a political ruffian, but they didn’t think he was this bad:

Yes, we knew Christie was a bully. But we didn’t know his crew was crazy enough to put people’s lives at risk in Fort Lee as a means to pressure the mayor. We didn’t know he would use Hurricane Sandy aid as a political slush fund. And we certainly didn’t know that Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer was sitting on a credible charge of extortion by Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno.

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Mayor de Blasio Blasts The New York Times

The mayor of this fine city is annoyed with The New York Times. Please copy that sentence for use in articles about every New York mayor, in perpetuity. According to The New York Observer, Bill de Blasio blasted the Times over its profile of John Doherty, the city’s sanitation commissioner.

The Times’ article noted that de Blasio — while thanking members of his team during a press conference — oddly excluded Doherty’s name. De Blasio was upset about the piece, and unprompted, brought it up at a separate conference with reporters. “I just want to say very clearly: The story in the New York Times today was patently inaccurate,” said the mayor. “I have immense respect for John Doherty. I asked John Doherty to stay on to help this city.”

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NY Times Now Boasts 760,000 Digital Subscribers

The New York Times’ digital offerings continue to lure readers. The Times company announced that in 2013, revenue from digital only subscribers jumped 36 percent. In the fourth quarter alone, the Times added 33,000 digital subscribers for a total of 760,000. Imagine if the paper had started charging for digital access in the late 90s.

The increase in fans of the digital Times was fortunately enough to offset declines in ad sales. Print advertising dropped 1.6 percent during the fourth quarter of 2013, and digital advertising declined by 0.2 percent. Total revenue was essentially flat for the year.

Mark Thompson, CEO of the Times Company, was optimistic about the news. “Our 2013 results reflect progress in some of the fundamentals of our business,” he said.

NY Times Might Publish Woody Allen Response to Allegations

Woody Allen wants his say. The 78-year-old actor, screenwriter and director, has contacted the New York Times about penning a response to the powerful op-ed by Dylan Farrow, his adopted daughter. Farrow’s piece, as you probably know, detailed her memories of Allen sexually molesting her when she was seven years old.

The Times’ opinion editor, Andrew Rosenthal, explained today that just because Allen wants a chance to reply to Farrow, doesn’t mean he’ll get it. He told the Times’ public editor that “It comes down to the editing process,” and that “Normally, we don’t publish a direct response.”

Of course that’s a bunch of bullshit. If Allen does indeed send in a reply, the Times is going to publish it. This has been too big of story for the paper. There’s zero chance it ignores a way to keep things going, despite the difficult subject matter.

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