New York Times Public Editor Arthur Brisbane devoted his Sunday Review column on the future of the paper's coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement (it ran before Mayor Mike Bloomberg ousted the OWSers from Zuccotti Park). Brisbane also quoted Executive Editor Jill Abramson sounding sympathetic to Occupy’s goals, promising to produce more stories on the group’s signature cause of income inequality.
Occupy Wall Street has proved to be a difficult, sprawling story to report. Almost immediately after protesters began arriving at Zuccotti Park in downtown New York on Sept. 17, Times readers weighed in with concerns about the coverage.
Too little, some said, and soon added: too late. Condescending, said others, as Times writers delivered analytical columns and articles questioning the protests’ absence of demands, of leaders, of a clear path ahead. Other readers pronounced a different line: The Times was giving too much and too favorable treatment to hodgepodge encampments that were disrupting New York and the other cities in the United States and abroad where the protests had spread.
Brisbane raised a question he could have answered himself with a few seconds of Google searching.
The Times has mentioned several times on blogs that Adbusters, a Canadian magazine, first proposed Occupy Wall Street and even set the date. Yet this intriguing nugget of information remains to be developed. Who is Adbusters? How did the idea leap the chasm between conception and action?
(The Times made one shallow foray into anti-Semitism at Adbusters in October but failed to relay the specifics: In 2004 Adbusters editor Kalle Lasn wrote an article about sinister Jewish neo-cons, "Why Won’t Anyone Say They Are Jewish?” It included charming lines like this: “Drawing attention to the Jewishness of the neo-cons is a tricky game.”)
Brisbane talked to Executive Editor Jill Abramson, who promised that her reporters would be filing stories to the liking of left-wingers in the Occupy movement.
I asked Jill Abramson, executive editor of The Times, about her plans. She promised that The Times is now digging into the origins story and considering how to capture the demographics of the movement. Further, she said, The Times’s various desks are “proceeding on multiple fronts with stories that get at the heart of the issues that OWS brings up -- income inequality, the lingering effects of the financial crisis and economic stagnation, the seemingly bottomless fall in home values.”
Just like the Times did when the Tea Party raised the issues of excessive federal spending and overbearing government? Or maybe not.