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The End Is Near But The Times Is Jolly

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Here's one for you: If a newspaper writes about its own bleak financial predicament in an aggressively rosy light, is that securities fraud?

Under the headline, 'Resilient Strategy for Times Despite Toll of a Recession,' Richard Pérez-Peña, the Times business reporter who covers the newspaper industry, gives an upbeat, even breathy, overview of the company's present business predicament.

Now, it is true, and perhaps a reporter's sort of joke, that nothing in Pérez-Peña's piece, except its thesis, its headline, its tone, and quotes from Times CEO Janet Robinson's most recent analyst call, together with some noncommittal statements from financial analysts, indicates anything but an unabashedly dismal situation and a recent history of mind-boggling incompetence.

On that basis, perhaps the paper can avoid an SEC prosecution: The horrifying facts are there, speaking for themselves, regardless of the bald-faced (possibly, now that I think of it, even tongue-in-cheek) sugar coating.

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