New York magazine editor Adam Moss told CUNY j-school grads this week (seventh item) “Eleven days ago, my employer announced that after 45 years of publishing a weekly magazine, New York was going to convert to a biweekly. This news found itself on the front page of the New York Times.
“Does the front page of the New York Times even matter anymore? I was shocked by how many people in this business didn’t even see it.”
After reading that, former Times executive editor Max Frankel sent me this email: “Tell Adam Moss the Times front page matters mightily, just not when it features a columnist who buried his only nugget of news. Maybe the columnist [David Carr] was pulling his punches out of affection for the magazine, in which case he deserved better than a dismissive comment. For easy proof of front-page consequence, see ‘china government attitude new york times.’”
Update – Adam Moss sends this response:
Regarding Max Frankel’s note in response to my aside in a speech to CUNY Journalism School graduates: I didn’t mean to suggest that the NY Times itself doesn’t matter. I agree with Max that the paper “matters mightily.”
Among other things, the speech addressed changes in journalistic forms and distribution. I was merely saying by way of a throwaway illustration (perhaps an overly glib one) that the placement of a story on the front page of the physical paper doesn’t confer the same sense of urgency or hierarchical importance it once did. The Times alternates lede stories many times a day, and if you read the paper’s contents digitally, as most readers do, you have no idea a story once was, or might later be, on the front page of the paper. I wouldn’t have thought this point was controversial, and I certainly didn’t mean it be dismissive. The Times’s journalism is hugely influential, and it’s a very good thing it is.