New York Times ’Reporter’ Alex Williams Is Lazy, Stupid or Both
There's a story - apocryphal, I'm sure - that at a dinner party many years ago, someone asked an editor at the New York Times why the paper had a bureau in Nairobi but not in the Bronx. "Because," he dryly replied, "we have readers in Nairobi."
The Times' local reporting has been much improved since that nasty comment. But a recent Style Section story calls into serious question how much gumshoe work the Newspaper of Record requires of its staff. OK, I know what you're thinking: It's the Style Section. These glossy tissue-paper thin "stories" are little more than words stitched together between ads for upscale designer boutiques. (My favorite - and there are so many: how hip and cool it is for men to have a gut.)
But still. This section may have the same relationship to, say, the news sections as masturbation has to real sex. But it's still the Times, and it's still the Hebrew National Hotdog of daily newspapers - the finest in the world, and hence, held to a higher standard.
In the article in questions, "reporter" Alex Williams gave two short desultory paragraphs before launching into the meat of the article, a cut-and-paste job of quotes from 13 gay men, one drag queen and two real girls about their reminiscences of the Pavilion, the venerable nightclub that was destroyed in the fire.
Except that this list was ridiculous. It is painfully obvious reading through the comments that Williams simply took out her electronic address of publicists, punched in the words "gay" and "New York" and got the requisite quotes, to wit:
What's really hysterical is that there are plenty of people Williams could have quoted who would been more accomplished, nuanced in their responses and actually had danced the night away at the Pavilion. Andy Tobias, Hal Rubenstein, Paul Rudnick (OK, not the whole night), Alan Cumming and Carson Kressley come immediately to mind.
None of this would hardly matter - except as an instance of how many Times writers have been phoning it in - did it not reek of condescension. When La Caravelle, the power-elite hangout, closed, you can bet the reporter did his homework about whom to talk to. If Sylvia's, say, the Harlem mainstay, closed, I highly doubt if the reporter would take to any old African-American "boldface" (ironic quotes here) and not the regulars.
But it's just the Gays and just their silly little resort town.