Search transcripts:    Advanced Search
Notable New     Yorkers
Select     Notable New Yorker

John B. OakesJohn B. Oakes
Photo Gallery

Part:         Session:         Page of 512

and there's a memo I'm putting into this which helps to illustrate this - over the last decade, I think that we were constantly eroding our attention to the real serious news, and eroding our unique position, a position we really held as a unique newspaper, not only a newspaper of record, but a newspaper in which you really could get all the serious news “fit to print,” I mean within reason, of course.

I think that our tendency, which began at least ten years ago, to personalize the news, to emphasize what I call features - and this is the kind of thing that drove Rosenthal crazy, when I made this kind of criticism at Absecon during the New Jersey sessions and before and after: featurizing a lot of the news I always felt was eroding the essential and unique position of the New York Times, and making it more and more just like every other newspaper in America. Still the best paper. I have no doubt of that, and I wouldn't want to be misunderstood on that. I think there's no question that, with all the erosion, we still are the best newspaper around, even today. But what has happened is that the unique quality of the Times has been destroyed, I believe, and I don't believe that we really would have had to pay that price to keep the paper viable. It is quite true that we probably would never have been able to make it a huge money-maker, with the system that I'm talking about, which is simply to emphasize what we have always done so well before, only to do it better. But I don't think we would necessarily have gone into the red.

And I have to say on this, and here is where I'm totally in disagreement, I'm in disagreement with the whole trend (obviously from everything I've said), but this makes me even more so - I feel that even if the Times, to preserve its unique quality that I've been

© 2006 Columbia University Libraries | Oral History Research Office | Rights and Permissions | Help