Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Promoting Elitism

I could never figure out why it was that people thought journalists lived such nice lives. I mean, we were paid nothing, worked long hours and got yelled at a lot.

But then I read the New York Times, the country's "paper of record," and I begin to understand why. As you move beyond the news pages you find yourself in sections like Styles , which promotes expensive meals, fashion that no one can afford and weddings only from those who "mean something" to society.

Take this article from the real estate section. It talks about the problems of smelling ones neighbors, something anyone who lives in an apartment can understand. But do they talk to folks in poor neighborhoods living on top of one another? Of course not:

“I feel like it’s hopeless,” said Susan Stewart, a book promoter for Monteiro & Company in Manhattan and an actress in her 20’s “exasperated” by the cigarette smoke from two downstairs apartments. The smell pollutes the den and master bedroom of the three-bedroom co-op she shares with her boyfriend, Seth Berkowitz, a 29-year-old film restorer and musician, in Jackson Heights, Queens.

“Usually on weekends when I’m sleeping in, I have the window open and get to wake up to the fresh smell of cigarettes,” said Ms. Stewart, a former smoker herself.

That cracks me up! A three-bedroom co-op? Yes, I know it's not in Manhattan, but still. And her complaint is about when she's trying to sleep in on weekends? Is that when she's not shopping for a pair of $200 jeans she read about in the Styles section? It leaves a reader with the impression that this is the crowd the reporter runs with.

If you haven't read it already, Tom Stites tackles this issue in regards to the Boston Globe in a speech he made while in Amherst.


Susan Stewart said...

To date, I've never tried on a pair of $200 jeans, unless I did it accidentally at Goodwill.

Chuck Tanowitz said...

That's a fair criticism. Perhaps I went a little too far in that part of my commentary. However, the basic point that the Times doesn't balance its articles with of income levels and backgrounds still stands.

New York is a diverse place, but if you read that article (or the Times in general) you have a very different impression of the city.