This time it's a liberal press critic who has unkind words for the New York Times. Jay Rosen, author of the PressThink blog, thinks the Grey Lady is no longer "the greatest newspaper in the land." What has replaced it, "some time in the least year or so," is the Washington Post.
The Post, I believe, is our great national newspaper now; the Times is number two, with the Wall Street Journal close behind. Still a strong fleet. With a new ship in the lead perhaps it will sail to unexpected places.
The Web has a lot to do with it, for the Post has been bolder, more willing to experiment online, less hung up. TimesSelect has something to do with it, too, for the reasons I explored in an earlier post. The breakdown in controls in reporting Weapons of Mass Destruction is, of course a factor— along with earlier episodes: Jayson Blair, Wen Ho Lee, Paul Krugman’s correction trauma. It’s an accumulation of things; the Post is just more agile, better able to adjust to a changing world, and to the exploding marketplace in news and views.
The switch happened a while ago, but I only realized it last night, as I was about to read Katharine Seelye’s account of Judith Miller’s return to the newsroom of the New York Times. When I clicked on the story about 1:00 am I thought to myself… They’re not up to it. And while it may seem strange to some PressThink readers, I had never really felt that way before in reading a news story in the New York Times.
The point most likely to trouble liberals is that the Times is no longer the "base line for the public narrative that it once was." This means that the New York Times no longer decides what becomes news.