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Alessandra Stanley, New York Times TV Critic, Will Cover 'The Richest Of The Rich'

06/24/2015 05:13 pm ET | Updated Jun 24, 2015
ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW YORK -- New York Times chief television critic Alessandra Stanley is leaving the influential perch she's held the past 12 years to begin covering America's uber-rich.

Times executive editor Dean Baquet described Stanley's new beat as part of the paper's "deepening focus on economic inequality in America" in a Wednesday staff memo obtained by The Huffington Post.

Stanley, he wrote, will report on "the way the richest of the rich -- the top 1 percent of the 1 percent -- are influencing, indeed rewiring, the nation's institutions, including universities, philanthropies, museums, sports franchises and, of course, political parties and government."

The Times certainly hasn't ignored the wealthiest denizens of New York, especially in its real estate section. Public editor Margaret Sullivan has criticized coverage that seemed to celebrate such excess, while calling for more reporting on poverty.

Stanley's move to the "richest of the rich" beat opens up a key position on the culture desk and gives management the opportunity to reimagine the chief critic's role. BuzzFeed's Helen Anne Peterson suggested last year that The Times could use a more engaged critic, arguing that the paper had failed to "write insightfully, articulately, and without embarrassing mistakes about America’s defining and, at least in the last 20 years, most vital medium."

Indeed, Stanley has drawn unflattering attention to her work in recent years by making an alarming number of factual errors, enough to warrant special editing attention.

Read Baquet's memo below:

After a dozen remarkable years as chief television critic, Alessandra Stanley has decided to return to reporting. As part of The Times's deepening focus on economic inequality in America, she will be creating a new beat: an interdisciplinary look at the way the richest of the rich -- the top 1 percent of the 1 percent -- are influencing, indeed rewiring, the nation's institutions, including universities, philanthropies, museums, sports franchises and, of course, political parties and government.

This is a subject both intensely timely and well suited to Alessandra’s skills as an observer, reporter and writer -- one that has fascinated her, she says, since she wrote about the first generation of Russian oligarchs as a foreign correspondent in the mid-1990s. Now, she'll be reporting on what she describes as the  "psychology, rituals, costs and contradictions" of a new generation of American titans. Her work will add to The Times's ongoing reporting on inequality in all its forms. More announcements will come on that front.

There is not enough space here to do justice to Alessandra’s exceptional work as TV critic. She covered the globe, whether the subject was Russian television news -- an awkward mix of pro-Putin and opposition stories that she described as "a little bit NPR, a little bit North Korea" -- or addictive French crime dramas. Closer to home, she weighed in on election-night coverage, Oscar ceremonies, anchor meltdowns and of course the rise of the golden age of cable dramas. If it was on TV, she was game to write about it. Her insights, wit and rich experience as a political reporter and foreign correspondent tracked a once fading medium as it re-emerged as one of the dominant art forms of the moment.

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