The New York Times Assumes Its Readers Are Horny and Dumb

In its most recent Sunday Styles section, the New York Times published a 4,800-word story headlined, "Sex on Campus: She Can Play That Game, Too." One reporter spent a full five months working exclusively on this patronizing abomination.

The reporter, Kate Taylor, tells NYT public editor Margaret Sullivan that "I worked on it exclusively from September through January, and then on and off (while reporting on the mayor’s race) since February." Let's do the math on that:

Total months from story conceptualization to publication: 10

Total months a New York Times reporter spent *exclusively* working on this story: 5

Total words produced per month of *exclusive* work: 960

Total redeeming value of this story as a whole: 0

In a not-so-subtle neg to critics, Kate Taylor said, "I feel as if the readers who appear to have read the article carefully – which is important, because it has many layers, not reflected in the snappy headline – have had very thoughtful reactions." On the contrary! I read every word of the story, mostly because I kept expecting it to come to the actual point. It never did. And the only reaction I had was, "I have wasted my time."

Though I consider myself deeply inured to the usual trolling instincts of the NYT Style section, this story filled me with a familiar rage which I thought I had lost. New York Times editor Glenn Kramon sent a reporter to an Ivy League school for five fucking months— while working on nothing else— in order to produce a story with a thesis statement of "Until recently, those who studied the rise of hookup culture had generally assumed that it was driven by men... But there is an increasing realization that young women are propelling it, too."

Come the fuck on.

There are certainly many legitimate stories to be done on sexuality, women, youth, and education. This was not one of them. This story is not a painstaking work of statistical social science. It is an anecdote-laden piece of face-smacking obviousness which any 12-year-old (or 80-year-old!) with a lick of common sense would know was true before even reading it. It's not much of a news story if everyone already knows it. No self respecting blog would ever assign or run this piece, because it has no news, it offers no surprises, and it traffics in poorly-concealed titillation. If we want titillation, we'll fucking give it to you straight. (Breaking: College kids like to fuck.) We won't wanly allude to it in the stilted and formal tones of the New York Times, complete with a gauzy, soft-focus photo of a girl's thigh just salacious enough to send the story rocketing to the top of the paper's most-read list, due to lack of other stories about Hot College Sex. (Breaking: New York Times readers like to read about fucking just as much as Daily Mail readers.) This story angered me not so much with its execution, but with its existence, because the fact that a money-strained newspaper would expend this many resources on this story proves that the editors who conceptualized and assigned and shepherded this story along consider you, the reader, to be so monumentally sheltered and gullible that you consider the revelation "College girls like sex, too" to be something newsworthy enough to devote 4,800 words to, on a Sunday— or, alternately, that you, the reader, are so sexually frustrated that you'll read 4,800 words of plodding sociology-lite just to get the vicarious thrill of thinking about the general topic of college girls fucking.

In which case, it would have been cheaper for everyone involved to just watch porn. Then, in the newspaper, put news stories.

[NYT. Photo: Shutterstock]