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Time to freshen up the New York Times?

In a shocking move for employees of a New York-based publication, Foster Kamer and Tim Heffernan of Esquire‘s Politics blog have come up with a proposal to improve the New York Times that would actually improve the New York Times.

The conceit of the piece is that, with Bob Herbert and Frank Rich tottering off to spout left-of-center-establishment-stroking platitudes elsewhere, it’s time to thoroughly revamp the gray lady’s op-ed page. There’s a long list of improvements to be made, but the three that stand out for me are suggestions that Frank Rich be replaced by Glenn Greenwald, Maureen Dowd be eighty-sixed in favor of Megan McArdle, and Ross Douthat be retired in favor of Radley Balko. Yes, I often disagree with Greenwald — but he’s a rare liberal who holds to consistent standards and applies them to his nominal allies. He’s also excellent on civil liberties. McArdle can be a little frustrating, but she thinks even uncomfortable topics through without mailing in her pieces. And Balko is, of course, just excellent, and deserves an even more prominent spot than his upcoming gig at the Huffington Post.

Kamer and Heffernan would also slide Paul Krugman off into retirement, substituting Bruce Bartlett in his place. Since even a Magic Eight-Ball would be an improvement on Krugman, that strikes me as a fine idea.

I can’t agree with letting Warren Buffett take Joe Nocera’s spot — do we really need to hear anything more from Buffett? — but overall, it’s an interesting proposal that would definitely spice up the undead corpse of the old establishment mouthpiece.

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  • They’ve clearly missed the point. Now that we live in the world of the internet, no one needs to wait for Bill Keller’s dead hand to move before setting up that proposed “dream editorial page” — if the participants in question wanted to, they could set up a web site together, and if they don’t, people are free to set up an aggregated RSS feed of all of them.

    The reason the Times is going to die is not just the $400+ fee per year to read it on line, and not just the horrible editorial policies, it is that no one needs them any more — they could survive longer if they had taste and a rational pricing scheme, but in the end, they’ve become structurally irrelevant as a gatekeeper.

  • Perry, you’re absolutely right. Whenever any of us want to read the output of Greenwald, McArdle, Balko, and the others suggested, we can already do so elsewhere, at zero or near-zero price. A subscription to an overpriced electronic version of a dying hag (and a substandard electronic version at that) does not a rational economic plan make, even for an ultra-liberal, statist publication. The Gray Lady is now well past her viable lifespan, and has been for some time. Let her die with something resembling dignity.

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