Sunday, September 20, 2009

Journalistic Myopia

How can one explain the squash myopia that rules triumphantly over the sports editors at The New York Times? As we all know, the NYT, together with The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, represents the journalistic sine qua non of the nation’s information-seeking masses. The NYT has a justified reputation for being a fine organization, is often fearless, and is packed with some of the best journalists in the game.

Which is why I remain baffled by some of the choices it makes in its sports coverage. There seems to be a pervasive ophthalmologic disorder that has run amok at the NYT’s sports desk in which no one over at the ‘Gray Lady’ sees the game of squash for what it is, an important minority sport whose players are particularly suited to NYT’s demographic: educated, professional, urban readers of news. It’s been very frustrating in years past when the Tournament of Champions has come to their own hometown and the NYT hasn’t given it a single line of copy. (A search of the NYT website comes up with two squash articles this year, far better than year’s past: one on Trinity’s astonishing success in college squash and another on StreetSquash.)

During the run-up to the recent distressing Olympics decision, the NYT mentioned squash only parenthetically (while claiming that it was probably not international enough!), and afterwards ran a post-decision article that opined about how the decision was a terrible blow to softball fans the world over but failed to even mention squash and its response.

And it’s not like the NYT has a policy of only doing articles on major sports. They have run articles on polo and breathless updates on skeleton, and just last Friday ran a long article on the new sport of ‘beach tennis,’ in which the sport’s founders discuss their hopes for Olympic inclusion! Please god don’t let it be so. That article is here:
The New York Times

The journalistic blinders are still on over at the NYT!

These bad choices may partly explain why people in search of sports coverage in the New York City area greatly prefer The Daily News or The New York Post. Meanwhile, on most days the sports pages of the NYT have retreated from a section of its own to a few pages within the business section. And those pages seem to be diminishing…. Too bad, because in most areas, the NYT remains a journalistic paragon.

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