Worst Side Story: WSJ Takes Knife to NYT’s Homeless Series

There’s been plenty of praise for the New York Times five-part Invisible Child series that depicted the hellish homeless shelter existence of one Brooklyn family and one remarkable 11-year-old girl named Dasani (after the upscale bottled water).

Now comes the backlash.

From Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal op-ed page:

Bloomberg’s Real Antipoverty Record

In November 2011, a domestic violence survivor named Joyce B. took her four children and left an abusive partner. Unemployed and now homeless, she turned to New York City for help. The city provided her with shelter, benefits that helped her get back on her feet, job training and placement services that led to her employment as a home health-care aide. This month, with savings from her job, she signed a lease and is moving to her own apartment with her children.

Joyce is one 335,000 formerly homeless New Yorkers who have ed-ar619_wolfso_g_20131217184122made the transition to permanent housing during the last 12 years. Each one is a powerful success story of overcoming obstacles.

Last week, the New York Times told readers a different story in a poignant five-part series, titled “Invisible Child,” about a 12-year-old homeless girl named Dasani and her struggles to beat the crushing odds against her and her family in Brooklyn. The ambition of this story, and the extraordinary weight the newspaper put behind it, wasn’t just to depict the plight of a single little girl. It was also a misleading commentary on the tenure of Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Admittedly, the authors of the piece – New York deputy mayors Harold Wolfson and Linda Gibbs – have a dog in this fight, but still it’s instructive to add this information to the mix, even given the lies/damned lies/statistics syndrome:

No city in the country has devoted more energy and resources to combating homelessness and poverty than New York City. No mayor has been more personally committed and invested in this fight than Mr. Bloomberg, who in addition to dramatically increasing city spending on antipoverty efforts, has donated more than $320 million of his own money to helping those New Yorkers most at risk of getting trapped in poverty.

Mr. Bloomberg’s last budget allocated $9.2 billion for services for the poor and the homeless—83% more than when he took office, and billions more than any other city in America. That number includes $981 million for services for the homeless, almost double the amount the city spent the year before he took office in 2002.

Not saying who’s right.

Just sayin’.

Originally posted at Campaign Outsider.

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NY Broadsheets See Different Art Auction Action

From our Compare and Contrast in Clear Idiomatic English desk

There’s a shipload of historic fine art up for auction in the Big Town right now, and it’s characterized very differently in the local broadsheets.

The Wall Street Journal, not surprisingly, takes a financialist view of the big sell-off.

$1 Billion in Art Heading to Auction

Collectors from Paul Allen to Madonna aim to sell paintings in New York sales next week

It’s a seller’s market. Next Tuesday when New York’s chief auction houses kick off two weeks of major art sales, collectors will see price tags for paintings that put other luxury goods to shame. Four canvases alone are estimated to sell for at least $30 million apiece—a trophy price rarely demanded during the recession or even before.

That’s because bigwig sellers who know how to gauge the art market’s cycle noticed a reassuring uptick in American bidding during a similar round of New York auctions last fall, a confidence that was matched by exuberant global bidding at London sales earlier this spring. Now, sellers are dusting off their masterpieces and trying to ride the wave.

Among the featured artworks in the Journal piece are André Derain’s “Madame Matisse in a Kimono” (estimate $15 million):


And Chaim Soutine’s “The Young Pastry Chef” (estimate: $16 million):


Crosstown at the New York Times, the Good Grey Lady, somewhat surprisingly, takes a populist view of the auctions:

Before the Gavel Falls, It’s All Free to Look At

MAYBE you haven’t been in Madonna’s bedroom, but this weekend you can take a look at what has.

Her Fernand Léger painting is part of the big spring sale season at the New York auction houses, when Christie’sSotheby’s and Phillips become the best free museums in town. Before the sales start on Tuesday night, art lovers can gaze at hundreds of millions of dollars of rarely seen artworks — Picassos and Pollocks, Cézannes and Calders — most of which will disappear into private collections, perhaps never to be viewed by the public again.

Among the featured artworks in the Times piece are, from left to right: Francis Bacon, Donald Judd, and Amadeo Modigliani.



The great spectator sport of fine art, coming soon to an auction house not near you.

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NYT Goes to War with WSJ

Monday’s New York Times gave a major facial to crosstown rival Wall Street Journal in this full-page ad targeted to potential advertisers:

Picture 1

For the fine-print impaired:

The Times’s U.S. audience across desktop, smartphone and tablet platforms is more than double that of The Wall Street Journal.

Over twice as large. That’s how much greater the Times’s digital audience is compared to The Wall Street Journal’s, according to the new comScore multi-platform report. And with 10 million of those visitors coming to us exclusively from smartphones and tablets, you’ll definitely want to include The Times’s mobile offerings in your media buy.

That’s a serious throwdown, triggered by the serious smackdown emerging between the New York national dailies.

Take, for instance, the Boston Marathon bombing story.

Monday’s Journal featured this mega-feature on Page One, reported by “ALAN CULLISON in Makhachkala, Russia, PAUL SONNE in Moscow, ANTON TROIANOVSKI in Cambridge, Mass., and DAVID GEORGE-COSH in Toronto”:

P1-BL228_FAMILY_D_20130421170955-1Turn to Religion Split Suspects’ Home

After last week’s Boston Marathon bombings, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva phoned her son Tamerlan in Massachusetts to make sure he was safe.

Days later, it was the son who phoned his mother. The two, in recent years, had shared a powerful transformation to a more intense brand of Islam.

A turn toward radical Islam by Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the Boston Marathon bombing suspect killed by police, forced a split in the family and shattered his relationship with his parents.

“The police, they have started shooting at us, they are chasing us,” Mrs. Tsarnaeva says Tamerlan told her. “Mama, I love you.” Then the phone went silent.

Soon, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26 years old and a prime suspect in the bloody marathon bombings, was dead.

It’s a big-league piece of journalism, as is the Times web feature Reconstructuring the Scene of the Boston Marathon Bombing:

Picture 3

The Times/Journal bakeoff is turning into a great newsclear proliferation race on any number of fronts.

The Journal clearly won the Pope Francis sweepstakes last month, as the hardworking staff at Campaign Outsider noted last week. From there, the Journal has published this e-book:

Picture 2

As night follows the day, look for a Times e-book on the Marathon bombings soon at an iTunes near you.

And let the wild Times/Journal rumpus begin!

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WSJ Beats NYT on CDC Antismoking Ads

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has officially abandoned its effort to require tobacco companies to print graphic Australian-style warnings on cigarette packs.

But that doesn’t mean the federal government has ended its sporadic antismoking effort.

From Friday’s Wall Street Journal:

NA-BV690_SMOKE_DV_20130328170623Graphic New Antismoking Ads Unveiled

The U.S. government unveiled a series of graphic new antismoking advertisements Thursday, showing how despite a recent setback it isn’t giving up on its ambition of using explicit images and messages to persuade Americans to quit.

The new ads, the second wave of a campaign begun last year called “Tips from Former Smokers,” depict people who lost limbs, kidneys and loved ones from smoking—as well as a man who developed lung damage after exposure to secondhand smoke.

The ads come just a few days after the government gave up on a planned series of graphic warning labels for cigarette packs that would also have featured gruesome effects of smoking. Those labels were successfully challenged in court by the tobacco industry, and the Food and Drug Administration said it would go back to the drawing board and develop new labels.

The WSJ piece also includes a helpful CDC graph, which the hardsearching staff can’t find but which tracks adult men’s smoking down from over 50% in the ’60s to 21.6% in 2010; women’s smoking down from over 30% to 16.5%; and overall smoking down from over 40% to 19%.

Interestingly, crosstown rival New York Times has no story on the CDC ad campaign, although the Times website does have videos of the TV spots.

More, no doubt, to come.


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When NYT Worlds Collide (Gillette Ad and Editorial Edition)

Coincidentally (or not), Gillette’s new Fusion ProGlide Styler turned up both in the New York Times advertising column and the New York Times advertising pages on Tuesday.

From the Times Business section:

SUB-ADCO-1-articleInlineShaving Below a Man’s Neck, if That’s What She Wants

AS bare-chested photographs of the hirsute actors Sean Connery and Burt Reynolds from the 1960s and 1970s suggest there was a time when an abundance of body hair for men was widely considered attractive. But look at magazines like Men’s Health and Men’s Fitness in recent years, and the vast majority of the shirtless cover models have polished torsos, well-defined six-pack abs and pectoral muscles.

Now the Gillette Fusion ProGlide Styler, a trimmer-razor hybrid introduced in 2012 as a facial hair styling tool, is beginning an advertising campaign to encourage men to use the product on other body parts.

A new commercial is set at a poolside cocktail party, where contrasting preferences in men’s body hair are expressed by three comely women: the model Kate Upton (some chest hair, but never on the back) and the actresses Hannah Simone (hairless stomachs to emphasize abs) and Genesis Rodriguez (no hair at all).

But wait – here’s the ad on the back page of the Times A section:

Picture 4

Mighty convenient, yeah?

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Why the New York Times Is a Great Newspaper (GNC Jack3d Edition)

From Sunday’s New York Times Business section:

17-GNC-articleLargeIs the Seller to Blame?

Workout Supplement Challenged After Death of Soldier

EVERY morning as she gets dressed for her accounting job, Leanne Sparling hangs her son’s military dog tags and a photograph of him in uniform around her neck. She wears the tags on the outside of her clothes, hoping to prompt strangers to ask about him. “When I do tell them what happened,” she says, “they are in total disbelief.”

Her son, Michael Lee Sparling, was a 22-year-old Army private when he died. But he wasn’t killed by a roadside bomb or an ambush in Afghanistan. He collapsed while running in formation for about 10 minutes with his unit at Fort Bliss, Tex., went into cardiac arrest and died later that day, on June 1, 2011.

Private Sparling had recently graduated from basic training and was in excellent physical condition. Before the exercise, he had taken the recommended dose of a workout supplement called Jack3d, bought at a GNC store on the base, according to legal filings.

Leanne Sparling and her husband, Michael, blame Jack3d for their son’s death, the Times report says. “It is the only way, they say, they can make sense of a healthy young man dying from cardiac arrest. Last month, they filed a wrongful-death lawsuitagainst USPlabs, the maker of the supplement, and GNC. They argue that the companies sold a defective product and failed to warn about its risks.”

From there, the Times devotes two full pages of newsprint to the issue of supplements and FDA regulations, which intersect almost nowhere.

Interestingly, the defense mounted by GNC ($2.4 billion in revenue last year, 8100 retail locations globally, $4 billion market capitalization) echoes the defense tobacco companies mounted when they came under serious attack four decades ago.


[In] a statement e-mailed to The New York Times two weeks ago, GNC said it had “no reason to believe that DMAA is unsafe.”

Phillip Morris CEO Joseph Cullman on Face the Nation in 1971: “I believe [cigarettes] have not been proven to be unsafe.”


Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

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Newseum’s Top Ten Pope-a-Lope Front Pages Skips the Best One

Every day The Newseum posts its Today’s Top Ten Front Pages, which featured this on Tuesday:

Caught Off Guard

Monday’s shocking news of Pope Benedict XVI’s impending resignation caught the world, and the media, off guard. Today, newspapers around the globe caught up, with front-page coverage of the first papal abdication in 600 years. Our favorite: “Bolt from the blue” in London’s Guardian, illustrated with a dramatic photo of St. Peter’s being struck by lightning yesterday

Said Guardian front page:


But that can’t hold a (votive) candle to Page One of Tuesday’s New York Post (via, of all places, the Newseum’s Today’s Front Pages):



Pope gives God 2 weeks’ notice?


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