Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Oh, NYT, you and your silly gimmicks!

Lest anyone missed it (I read it in the print edition this morning, old fart that I am), Frank Bruni "reviewed" the newly reopened Second Avenue Deli. Except instead of critiquing the food, he invited Ed Koch, Nora Ephron, and a writer named Laura Shapiro out to eat with him.

In other words, Bruni assembled the Times' target demographic -- affluent, intellectual (often Jewish) New York Baby Boomers who are prominent in something -- in a site of collective nostalgia, then waited for the witticisms to spark. Way to pen some useful analysis, Frank!

He concluded that "we weren’t so much eating in a specific restaurant as passing through a communal storehouse of memories, on a bridge of babkas from the past to the future."

Readers ate the whole thing up, if you will. At 10:30 p.m. Wednesday night, the piece was sixth on the site's most e-mailed list. (The five before it were about old people dating, couples with disparate eating habits, the dog show, Dowd, and the recession. The lead story on the homepage was about Obama, who lost the New York primary.)

Bruni was stuffed in a section whose cover story was about the resurgence of milk chocolate. (See its sexy photo illustration above.) The reporter did a rather dry, researched piece that included a small box discussing the types of "dark milk chocolate" the Dining section liked best. Translation: the whole staff repeatedly nixed work duties to eat chocolate. I used to work in a features section. People there would taste anything for a few minutes away from their desks.

Keep up the hard work, folks.

1 comment: