what about the Times 2.0?

Recently there’s been a rash of cultural artifacts glossed with the suffix “2.0” as if they were software products prematurely released to the marketplace as version 1.0. Journalism 2.0, Web 2.0, Recovery 2.0, God 2.0. Which leaves a good portion of the cultural dictionary yet unadulterated. So I wondered… what about the Times 2.0?

Like any armchair press critic in this great land, I can give thanks today that most of the content of most of the newspapers in the country is available for free online. This cornucopia is not always used for pedagogical purposes, as Slate’s celebrated “Today’s Papers” daily column does in sifting the articles from the five leading papers. It’s also used for selective amplification or particular criticism of whatever stories are fancied by the armchair press critics, the bloggus bloviatus. The New York Times is especially grist for criticism because of its presumption as the paper of record, coupled with the succession of scandalous ethical lapses in the last several years, as well as its perceived lack of initiative in embracing new media concepts. My reason for having a look at the Times is not because they are paying me a gross amount of money, but the reverse: at $288 a year, it’s the largest recipient of my media budget.

It’s only fair, if one were to conjure up the phrase “Times 2.0,” not to actually mean the real future of the paper, but the present future based on the slogans of the period that have emanated forth from nonending media conferences. For example: the articles are no longer read straight, but referred to. It’s about conversations, not lectures. Transparency can substitute for objectivity. Your readers know more than you do. These sare all interesting, but ulimately unsatisfying. I’ll be looking at these concepts in a short series this week.

Me in front of NYT HQThis piece originally started from of my discovery of a missing disclosure by a contributor to the Times. I had fair expectation that when that news was amplified, it would just churn some more bash-the-Times posts— though I didn’t guess that one of them would come from one of America’s top humorists, and not even be funny at that. So I spent the weekend gathering together my notes from the last few months about the current evolution of the Times, and assemble it into a series.

I was actually in New York this weekend spending Thanksgiving with my family. We went into the City, and my father and I just happened to walk down West 43rd Street and past the headquarters of the New York Times, where I posed for the picture. Were it a little warmer than twenty degrees, I would have taken the gloves off to clearly show two fingers. Two, as in Two-Dot-Oh.