There is a certain irony involved in the former head of (the currently very troubled) Random House penning a defense of the New York Times. Nevertheless that’s what Peter Osnos is up to over at The Daily Beast. However, perhaps just as interesting is the fact that a collection of NYT front pages made the best-seller list — perhaps less a measure of the relevance of newspapers than a further sign they are considered by many to be some sort of collectable item. Anyway, here’s a bit of what Osnos, also a former editor at WaPo had to say about The Grey Lady.
Until the rest of the economy went into a tailspin, turning a serious problem for the newspaper industry into a catastrophe, it was fashionable in some financial and journalistic circles to belittle the Times‘ senior management for mistakes.
It is easy and satisfying to be a critic of the Times. Almost every reader, and certainly anyone who operates in the political, business, cultural, or sports precincts, among others, can tell you what the paper has done wrong…Because the Times is so ingrained a factor in American life, its every flaw, foible, and stumble is magnified, making the insignificant seem serious and the serious monumental.
Ultimately, whatever other holdings the Times may have to sell, including its very valuable partial ownership of the Boston Red Sox, its most important asset to the family that controls the company and the nation that relies on it for journalism is the standards and range reflected in all those tens of thousands of newspaper front pages.