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The New York Times

The New York Times is an internationally influential daily newspaper published in New York City, New York, and distributed worldwide.


Nicknamed "The Gray Lady" or The Times, the newspaper was founded as The New-York Daily Times in 1851 by Henry J. Raymond and George Jones as a sober alternative to the more partisan newspapers that dominated the New York journalism of the time. In its very first edition on September 18, 1851, the paper stated,

"We publish today the first issue of the New-York Daily Times, and we intend to issue it every morning (Sundays excepted) for an indefinite number of years to come."

In later years, the paper expanded its production to Sundays; the Sunday edition is now the largest of the week, containing numerous sections focusing on food, travel, the arts, and other cultural topics, in addition to news content, as well as a glossy magazine. The considerable size of the Times Sunday edition is a cliché amongst those familiar with newspapers.

In the United States, a public library will typically hold copies of the New York Times Index, which cross-references current events with the articles from the Times, in keeping with its policy of being a newspaper of record. This policy also means that the Times is rarely first with a story (a "scoop"), unless it is local to New York, and that when the Times has a scoop that information is propagated world-wide to other papers and news sources.

Adolph Ochs acquired the Times in 1896, and under his guidance the newspaper achieved an international scope, circulation, and reputation. In 1897 he coined the paper's current slogan "All The News That's Fit To Print," widely interpreted as a jibe to competing papers known for yellow journalism. After relocating the paper's headquarters to a new tower on 42nd Street, the area was named Times Square in 1904. Nine years later the Times opened an annex at 229 43rd Street, their current headquarters, later selling Times Tower in 1961. It is currently owned by The New York Times Company, in which descendants of Ochs, principally the Sulzberger family, maintain a dominant role.

In 1944 the Times bought radio station WQXR. It broadcasts classical music and news reports from the Times, a format that remains to this day.


Illustrations were consistently avoided in The Times for decades. During this period, the illustrations of The Wall Street Journal were part of its competitive advantage, compared to The Times. It took the multi-color photographics examples of The Los Angeles Times and other rivals to persuade the management to support multi-color photographs.

Science Times and Circuits

On Tuesdays, Science Times appears, a dedicated section for science articles, including one page for health articles. This section is consistently popular for high school reading programs. USA Today has copied this practice and also puts out science articles on Tuesdays as well. When this section first appeared, there was no dedicated section for technology, so that computer and electronics advertising targeted at a niche market formed a fine revenue stream for the Times. Now Thursdays also features a large computer and electronics advertising venue in the Circuits section. The newspaper does not restrict science reporting only to these weekly sections.

The science reporting consistently includes major scientific discoveries in cosmology, biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics, frequently displaying these articles on the front page, leftmost column. The proof of Fermat's Last Theorem made the front page in this position, for example.


This paper is composed electronically. The articles, their fonts and the illustrations are composed on workstations, then uploaded to the printers in multiple locations across the country, including the New York area and Chicago. At one time, there was a national edition which differed from the New York City edition, but the national edition was dropped in favor of uniform sections nationwide, including the New York City advertising.

Allegations of Bias

Since the New York Times is a preeminent newspaper of the world's preeminent superpower, it is more closely examined and criticized for signs of bias than most other newspapers in the world. While the Times generally enjoys a reputation for being a reliable source of news, many also regard it as biased in various ways. Most notably, the Times has long been accused of a liberal bias.

Articles in the Times can be broadly subdivided into four general categories:

  1. editorials
  2. "hard news" reporting
  3. "soft news" articles (for example, book reviews, travel, and "lifestyle" coverage)
  4. op-ed

The Times has been accused of bias in all four areas at one time or another.

Since most editorials in American newspapers express the editorial staff's point of view --- i.e., they reflect the opinions of the editors, and hence are not intended to be objective --- this portion of the paper is, like the editorial section of every American newspaper, "biased" by definition. The Times has also been criticized for allowing Exxon-Mobil Corporation to run a regular paid "advertorial" commentary piece on its editorial page, although the practice is common in other U.S. newspapers. Some studies have accused the Times of intentionally selecting op-ed pieces and letters to the editor that "bracket" their editorial position, making the editorials appear to be moderate.

More seriously, perhaps, many conservatives believe that the Times' hard news and soft news reportage have a consistent and pronounced liberal slant, particularly on social issues. Some claim that political commentary may intermix with art criticism in the Arts section of the paper. For example, A. O. Scott's film reviews sometimes contain barbs directed at social conservatives.

Conversely, many liberals and progressives believe that the Times' hard reporting of foreign policy issues tends to be biased towards right-wing views. Some progressives believe that the Times' reporting of economic policy issues tends to be biased towards upper-middle class or upper-class concerns over the concerns of the poor or working-class. Third, some Times political reporters, such as Elisabeth Bumiller and Adam Nagourney, have been accused by liberals of covering politics in a shallow and unreflective fashion that (perhaps inadvertently) benefits conservatives.

In the op-ed section, the Times' regular columnists — who operate largely independently of the rest of the paper, and are subject to relatively little editorial oversight — have a mixed range of political orientations. Some claim that this mix is unbalanced, and that this imbalance reflects bias at the newspaper. The 2004 roster of regular columnists range in political position from Maureen Dowd, Paul Krugman, and Bob Herbert on the left, to Thomas Friedman and Nicholas Kristof in the center-left, to William Safire on the right and David Brooks, formerly of The Weekly Standard magazine, on the center-right. However, this ranking of these columnists' political positions on the one-dimensional American political spectrum does not completely characterize their actions or views. For example, Dowd strongly criticized President Clinton; Krugman (a professional economist) spoke as an economic centrist before he began systematically criticizing the George W. Bush administration; and Safire has criticized the Patriot Act.

Many books have been written about the reliability of the New York Times and its impact on the political community. Comparisons have been made between the Times and the New York Post and Wall Street Journal, both of which are also published in New York and have a much more conservative slant, at least on their editorial pages.

Times self-examination of bias

In summer 2004, the Times' ombudsman, Daniel Okrent, wrote a piece on the Times's alleged liberal bias. He concluded that the Times did have a liberal bias in coverage of certain social issues, gay marriage being the example he used. He claimed that this bias reflected the paper's cosmopolitanism, which arose naturally from its roots as a hometown paper of New York City (in the United States, cosmopolitan urban populations, like New York City's, tend to be more socially liberal than the mean).

To date, Okrent has not commented extensively on general biases in coverage of "hard news" matters, such as fiscal policy, foreign policy, or civil liberties. However, he has noted that the paper's coverage of the Iraq war was, among other things, insufficiently critical of the George W. Bush administration (see below).

Recent Controversies

In 2003, the Times admitted to journalism fraud committed over a span of several years by one of its reporters, Jayson Blair, and the general professionalism of the paper was questioned, though Blair immediately resigned following the incident. Questions of affirmative action in journalism were also raised, since Blair was African American. Several top officials, including the chief of its editorial board, also resigned their posts following the incident.

On May 26, 2004, the Times published another significant admission of journalistic failings, admitting that its flawed reporting during the buildup to war with Iraq helped promote the misleading belief that Iraq possessed large stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. While this "From the Editors" piece didn't mention names, a large part of the incriminated articles had been written by Times reporter Judith Miller.

A second self-criticism by Times ombudsman Daniel Okrent went further. "The failure was not individual, but institutional," Okrent wrote. "War requires an extra standard of care, not a lesser one. But in the Times's WMD coverage, readers encountered some rather breathless stories built on unsubstantiated 'revelations' that, in many instances, were the anonymity-cloaked assertions of people with vested interests. Times reporters broke many stories before and after the war - but when the stories themselves later broke apart, in many instances Times readers never found out. ... Other stories pushed Pentagon assertions so aggressively you could almost sense epaulets sprouting on the shoulders of editors. ... The aggressive journalism that I long for, and that the paper owes both its readers and its own self-respect, would reveal not just the tactics of those who promoted the WMD stories, but how the Times itself was used to further their cunning campaign."


Executive editors



The New York Times received a 100% rating on the Corporate Equality Index released by the Human Rights Campaign starting in 2004, the third year of the report.

See also

External links

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