THE BLOG
09/23/2008 06:56 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Gray Lady Doesn't Get the 'Message' (and is Promoting Porn?)

I can't be the only one thoroughly annoyed by the New York Times' insistence on using the word 'message' to follow 'email', as in, "in an email message received last night". What gives? An email sent to the Public Editor asking about the rule received no answer. And while I'm no grammar expert, 'email' stands alone as a word perfectly well. What else can an email be other than a message? With dwindling readership and less young people even opening newspapers, the NYT should want to make itself as accessible and readable as possible, and yet, each time I read a sentence containing 'email message', it sticks in my craw. Somehow the New Yorker's arcane use of a diaeresis (coöperation) or acute accent (élite) seems quaint - and doesn't interrupt a reader's flow like an additional, superfluous word; even e-mail doesn't itch.

Of course the glory days are long gone - when the Gray Lady really was the paper of record, when it was far less biased, when William Safire was the world's most influential political columnist and his mere presence on the oped page encouraged other writers to try that much harder (fear of a Gotcha! note - this being pre email). Spelling and grammatical errors are now common . . . From 7 Sep 08 Week in Review: "It seems like no detail of these proceedings was deemed to trivial for dissemination . . ." - in an article about the media! Clearly, these are tough times for print media, but did they fire all the proofreaders?

And while I'm venting . . . How offensive was the off-hand reference to xtube by Guy Trebay in an article about olympians beautiful bodies (13 Aug 08)? As if watching porn is a normal pastime nowadays. He basically compared the athletes to porn stars, and since he could see them on tv, didn't have to visit xtube. We know it's there, but if this isn't 'dumbing down', what is? Where was the editor?