Monday, November 07, 2005

Dog bites man: NY Times coverage of Victor Navasky

Consider this: Leftist replaces leftist as as publisher of leftist magazine (dog bites man), The New York Times writes it up. Leftist takes over neutral media monitor (man bites dog), the Times does not find it newsworthy.

Leftist Katrina vanden Heuvel, according to an article in today's Times, is replacing Victor Navasky as as publisher of The Nation. When Navasky (in the Times' words, "one of the reigning voices of the intellectual left") took over neutral media watchdog Columbia Journalism Review, the Times did not find it fit to print.

Here is the crux of today's story in the Times:
Victor Navasky, 72, publisher of The Nation, is officially handing over his job to Katrina vanden Heuvel, 46, the editor. She remains as editor and becomes publisher and general partner of the liberal Nation. Mr. Navasky, one of the reigning voices of the intellectual left for the last three decades, joined the magazine in 1978 as its editor and became publisher and general partner in 1995 when he bought it with a group of investors, including Ms. vanden Heuvel, who was then acting editor, and the actor Paul Newman.
Two aspects of the Times piece struck me.

First, the article contains the first mention (of which I am aware) anywhere in the Times that Navasky works at CJR:
Mr. Navasky will continue at The Nation as publisher emeritus and a shareholder but will devote most of his time to his other job, as chairman of The Columbia Journalism Review.
For some months Navasky has officially been CJR's chairman, and both the editorial and business sides have reported to him for considerably longer than that. I'm glad the Times has finally acknowledged this, even if they arrived eons late to the party.

Second, why does the Times consider Navasky's stepping down at The Nation more noteworthy than his stepping up at CJR many months ago? Note that Navasky had long ago given up the editor position at The Nation; the Times article is only about his giving up the publisher position. Yet it still passed the newsworthiness test. When Navasky took over CJR, it did not.

Regular readers of this site know that that, until outed in this blog and elsewhere, Navasky's CJR role was not public; he appeared nowhere in the CJR masthead, and no announcement appeared anywhere in CJR for what appears to be over a year. The only acknowledgement of his role (which CJR editors evidently thought was sufficient) was one mention in an alumni newsletter for Columbia's journalism school. CJR has been criticized (by me among others) for hiding Navasky's role. As one observer noted, the secrecy smacked of guilty knowledge: were the powers that be at the magazine uncomfortable with a paragon of the Left running a supposedly unbiased media watchdog?

And was the Times uncomfortable with Navasky's role as well? Could the paper have been complicit in not publicizing it? Or perhaps it was simply an oversight on the Paper of Record's part. But the contrast with the article published today does make one wonder.

  • As is his custom, Mediacrity pulls no punches:
    [A]ll pretenses have dropped away, ...Victor Navasky will now be devoting all his energies to Columbia Journalism Review. That makes complete the corruption of what had once been a respected, neutral journalism review.
  • Gawker:
    Next is what Navasky will be focusing on instead: “his other job, as chairman of The Columbia Journalism Review,” a fact that will make rightie press-crit sorts even more dyspeptic than usual.
    Gawker bills itself as "a mix of pop culture and media gossip,.... Gawker is compulsory reading for New York editors and reporters, and often sets the agenda..." Interesting then that the news of Navasky's role at CJR is just coming to Gawker's attention now. Guess if the Times hasn't reported on it yet, it must not be fit to print.

  • Romenesko, who ran a brief snippet when the story broke five months ago, summarizes today's Times story without adding any commentary.

  • Welcome, Instapundit readers! It's my first 'lanche in quite a while.