Tag Archives: Journalism

What is the difference between the New York Times, the New York Post, and the New Yorker?

Newsroom of the The New York Times circa 1920

Reporters in the newsroom of the The New York Times circa 1920.

See Sonny Bohanan’s answer to this question on Quora.com: What is the difference between the New York Times, the New York Post, and the New Yorker?

By Sonny Bohanan

The New York Times and the New York Post are daily newspapers that publish 365 issues a year — 366 on leap years — and the occasional “extra” edition in the event of world-shaking news, like the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The New Yorker is a weekly magazine that publishes 47 issues a year, covering news, the arts, culture, and anything else of interest.

The three are different in many respects but similar in one: Based in New York, they all focus a good deal on things that happen in that city. The Post is the most New York-centric of the three.

The Post and the Times differ in tone, style, appearance, and story subjects — their personalities. The Post is a tabloid, which describes both its size and its attitude. It has a magazine format that can be more easily read by subway commuters. The Times is a broadsheet, which is difficult, in a crowd, to open to the inside pages.

New York Post cover from February 2016

New York Post cover from February 2016, the day after the Iowa presidential caucus.

The Post gives more prominence to salacious  stories — sex, drugs, scandal, betrayal, and such — and it is designed with a lurid red and black color scheme reminiscent of true-crime novels. The bold, clever, and often risqué front-page headlines are my favorite feature of the Post. Some headlines I enjoyed:

CLOAK AND SHAG HER (CIA boss Petraeus resigns over sexual affair)
HO-NO! (Gov. Spitzer gets caught with a prostitute)
A-FRAUD (Pretty much any story about former Yankee player Alex Rodriquez, aka A-Rod)
WEINER EXPOSED (Pretty much any story about former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner)

The Times, meanwhile, is recognized as the best newspaper in America — maybe the world. It is an annual winner of Pulitzer Prizes, having so far amassed 117 of them, beginning in 1918 for its coverage of World War I.  The Times is one of the few newspapers that has been successful in monetizing the Internet because it is so well-known and respected that people worldwide are willing to pay a subscription fee to read it online.

New York Times cover on September 12, 2001

The New York Times cover for September 12, 2001.

The Times is filled with national and international news, and it has a section for virtually any interest under the sun: Opinion, books, the arts, food, movies, sports, health, science, technology, business, weather, fashion, theater, home and garden. The strength of its brand and the advertising and subscriptions it commands give the Times the wherewithal to continue deploying reporters all over the globe, a rarity.

Of the three publications we are comparing, the Times has by far the largest editorial staff. It also is known for the more formal voice of its writing. While other newspapers refer to their story subjects, on second reference, only by last name, the Times uses courtesy titles such as Ms., Mr., Dr., and Senator in every instance. So where Tom Hanks becomes “Hanks” after first reference in the Post, he will forever be “Mr. Hanks” in the Times, or so we can hope. It is one of the last remaining online spaces where we still daily witness civility, or a reasonable facsimile thereof.

New Yorker cover for October 20, 2014, issue

New Yorker cover for October 20, 2014.

If I seem to have ignored the New Yorker magazine, it is only because I’ve saved the best for last. I’ve been a subscriber to the magazine for more than 20 years, even after it beefed up its website and tripled its subscription fee.

Where else can you find the best fiction writers working today, while also learning first about (for instance) the faked intelligence that the Bush Administration used to railroad the nation into a bogus war in Iraq? If only Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld had subscribed to the New Yorker, they too would have been privy, before the 2003 invasion, to information that was only available to people, like myself, who read. Just think how differently things might have turned out — how many lives saved — if the Triumvirate of Torture had but read the New Yorker‘s investigative news stories. They could have rushed in and stopped themselves from lying about Saddam Hussein, the yellowcake uranium, and the weapons of mass destruction.

But no, they failed to subscribe to the New Yorker, which caused them to fail the nation by failing (hat trick!) to stop themselves from peddling a lie to the United Nations and the world. I guess what I’m saying is, the New Yorker saves lives. Or it could have, if only . . . well, you know.

For my money, the New Yorker publishes the best long-form journalism in the United States, the best short fiction, poetry, opinion, and humor writing, plus the best movie, music, book, theater, and culture reviews. And don’t forget the cartoons, or the original illustrations that grace the cover each week.

So, there you have it. The difference between the New York Times, the New York Post and the New Yorker. I hope it changes your life in ways that neither of us could have imagined.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Arachnophobia: Spider man lures editor into web

Spider in web

In the center of the web was a spider as big around as a dinner plate.

The call came in about 8:30 on a Friday night.

I was on deadline at the Amarillo newspaper during my first week as night city editor, and the man on the other end of the phone line had called to tell me about a giant spider he’d found in his house.

He was excited, talking very quickly, and he didn’t sound drunk, so I decided to hear him out. Then I would politely thank him and hang up.

He’d made his discovery while coming down the stairs into his darkened basement. He saw a large web, and in the center was a spider “as big around as a dinner plate,” he said. Another spider, slightly smaller, was up near the corner of it, he said. He rushed upstairs to tell his wife.

Hmm. Are the spiders still there?

Yes, they are.

He didn’t know what to do about them, he said, so he had called a professor of entomology at nearby West Texas A&M University to ask him.

I recognized the professor’s name. This story was becoming interesting.

So, what did the professor say?

He’s coming over in about 15 minutes, the man said. He wants to see them for himself and told me I should call the newspaper.

Fifteen minutes? I glanced around the newsroom for a reporter goofing off and found one recounting salacious details that never wound up in his boring story.

The worst part of it is our cat, the caller said.

Your cat?

Yeah, our cat just had kittens and we couldn’t find one of them. When I went into the basement to look for it, I saw it wrapped up like a cocoon in the spider’s web.

Good God.

What’s your name and address?

Mark Stratton, he said, 607 Buchanan.

Phone number? He said it, and I wrote it down.

We’ll be there in five minutes, I said. I sent a reporter and photographer to the address. My fellow-editor David Stevens and I took another car to the house. I had to see this for myself, in case it turned out to be true.

We got to the house and I bounded up to the front porch. The sun was low in the summer sky, and I knocked on the door. The windows were dark. I peered in but saw nothing.

I knocked for another five minutes, then gave up.

I’m an idiot!

I called the phone number he gave me, and a woman at a local convenience store answered. No, she’d never heard of any spiders the size of dinner plates. No missing kittens. I looked in the phone book. No Mark Stratton.

When I walked back into the newsroom, I expected it to erupt in laughter. But no one said a word. They’d apparently had their fun while I was gone. By the way, it was the sports guys. Some things you just know.

So, to anyone planning a little fun for April Fool’s Day, a bit of advice: I’ve already heard the one about the spiders and the kitten.

 This story was originally published March 31, 1998, in the Wichita Falls Times Record News.

Tagged , , , ,

Why I write fiction

Since leaving the newspaper business in late 2008, I’ve started writing fiction. But, lacking publication deadlines, I’ve never really finished anything to my satisfaction. No point in time marked it as “complete, move on.”

I started grad school in September 2013, at the University of North Texas, to learn how to write fiction and to write on deadline again, the only way I know how. But, more importantly, to be among folks who brood on reality, as I do, and try to create from it a world that makes some sense. After more than twenty years of writing newspaper stories and fifty years of living, I am convinced that there are no meanings except the ones we fashion for ourselves. And that is why I write fiction.

In May 1992, when I was a news reporter, a five-year-old girl named Shawnlee Perry disappeared while playing outside her house in Earth, Texas. I drove the two hours from Amarillo to Earth the next day and met with Shawnlee’s parents, who told me with breaking hearts and tears in their eyes about their daughter – her favorite foods, her favorite movies and songs, the cute, funny things she had said and done in her young life. That day I also knocked on the doors of many neighbors, but there was a fog of fear over the neighborhood and only one would speak to me.

I watched as the anguish and guilt of Shawnlee’s parents tore the couple apart. Three months after her disappearance, a farmer, mowing his field about five miles from Shawnlee’s house, found her decomposed body. Her panties had been turned inside out, and she had several broken bones.

A neighbor named Eddie Rowton, who “helped”  search parties look for Shawnlee after her disappearance, was convicted of kidnapping and beating the young girl to death, and a jury sentenced him to die. After killing Shawnlee, Rowton also beat and raped a New Mexico woman, and he was convicted of that crime as well. He spent two years on death row before he died in prison, complaining of chest pains, in 2001 at age 48.

Even twenty years later, I have no trouble recalling the details of the case from memory. I do, however, have trouble making sense of the crime. What drove Mr. Rowton to hurt and destroy those around him? Why did the Perrys let their daughter play alone outside? Why did the two men who claim to have witnessed the crime not stop it?

Only through fiction can I find the answers, which are hidden.

Tagged , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: