Hugo Lindgren, the new New York Times Magazine editor-in-chief, has already left his mark on the paper’s reputation by choosing an embarrassingly sympathetic portrait of convicted terrorist helper Lori Berenson as the cover story for the relaunch of the Sunday magazine. He compounds the error by hailing writer Jennifer Egan’s embrace of radical chic as “in every way a classic Times Magazine story,” in his self-congratulatory “Editor’s Letter” that will also appear in Sunday’s upcoming issue.
With even less excuse than Egan (the novelist who penned the 8,300-word cover story love letter to Berenson) Lindgren reveals his own lack of basic understanding of the case, showing the convinted collaborator as engaging in naive, youthful political hijinks, rather than knowingly and deceptively helping murderous left-wing terror group Tupac Amaru (abbreviated in Spanish as M.R.T.A.)
The New York Times Magazine is based on long-form narrative journalism, and this week’s cover article, by Jennifer Egan, is a prime example. It is about Lori Berenson, a New Yorker who moved to Latin America as a young adult, got mixed up in revolutionary politics in Peru and was promptly thrown in prison, where she spent the next 15 years before being paroled last year. Egan traveled to Lima, where Berenson must remain until 2015, and tells the story of a wounded but resilient woman struggling to sort out a place for herself in the world. It is in every way a classic Times Magazine story.