Monday, June 20, 2005

A matter of principle

I was perusing the Vows section of The New York Times yesterday, basically checking to see if any working-class people get married (not as far as the Times can tell, it would seem) and a thought occurred to me: Does the Stylin' section actually confirm the Saturday weddings it prints? Having a rudimentary knowledge of how a newspaper works, it seemed to me that this section would go to press at the very latest on Saturday afternoon, if not sooner. Having staffers at the weddings, ready to dictate a breaking lede struck me as unlikely.

But there below the high cheekbones and toothy grins there's a disclaimer: "These reports are based on information from the couples or their families, as verified by the Styles staff. This section went to press on Friday and the families were asked to notify the Times ... if any last-minute change required a correction in Section 1."

If the section goes to print on Friday, but someone gets left at the altar on Satuday, what does the Times do, go back into the section and reprint it? Would there be time? Call me crazy, but I can't imagine there's a lot of wiggle room in the press run on a Saturday afternoon or evening. And I can't imagine someone telling the international editor "No, you can't chase this edition to update that story on the earthquake in New Guinea, a bride ran out on a wedding in Darien and we've got to replate Sunday Styles."

But maybe I'm missing the forest for the trees here. Assuming that it'd be technically possible to keep from inaccurately printing that a couple wed, why go the trouble?

Wouldn't it just be wiser and easier to print that a couple was to have been married the previous day? Seems to me it'd prevent a Mitch Albom situation from occurring in case the first thing on the mind of an abandoned bride or groom isn't to call the Times and yell "Stop the Presses!"

Of course, maybe the reason to print the nuptials as a fait accompli, even on Friday night is that it looks better. Having to write that Gregory and Alexandra "were to have been married" is a whole lot more awkward than writing that they were, even if it's less accurate. In other words: Stylin' over substance.

I should be pissed off by this fundamental, but ultimately minor, breach of journalistic integrity. But honestly, I'm not even surprised.


evil girl said...

lord. flop, get a woman. please.

CrimeNotes said...

A little over a week ago, he could have been all yours. But you didn't even try.

CrimeNotes said...

Keep in mind that the Styles section is distributed to subscribes on Saturday monring. So the wedding announcements probably go to print on Friday sometime. Point taken on your critique, but this seems to me one of the smallest problems with the Styles section, let alone the increasingly inane newspaper as a whole.

Crunk Raconteur said...

Given how many weddings I attend lately, several friends and I have decided that we'd really like to see a jilting (we don't wish anyone ill, nor do we wish batters ill when we say we'd like to see a triple play happen in person). And now, thanks to Flop, I have yet another reason to want to see one...because you better believe if I do, I'm calling the Times and yelling "Stop the Presses!"

Flop said...

I think I noted in the original post that it was a minor detail. And yes, there's a whole raft of other problems at the times. But I don't want to turn this into a cabbage-league version of CJR Daily.

evil girl said...

regardless of the debate on whether this even counts as journalism to begin with, you've failed to answer the very basic question: why were you reading the wedding announcements?

mine's not until next summer.

CrimeNotes said...


More jokes like that, and you're banned!