New York Times Orders Readers to Eat Ham, Bacon
The New York Times reporter who covers the state of New Jersey has an article in the newspaper ordering New York Times readers to eat pork.
Here’s one problematic passage, which comes in a first-person article by the reporter, Nick Corasaniti, about his job:
I’ll regale my editors with tales of wonderful, unique cuisine found in my travels. (This thing called “Taylor Ham” is a must try, as are the French fries at Kuppers in Seaside, which give a new meaning to “fresh cut,” and the apple-based BBQ sauce from Thisilldous in Belvidere.)
To Jewish or even Muslim readers of the Times who observe religious dietary laws, “Taylor Ham” is not a “wonderful, unique…must try,” but rather a forbidden food, one that it is entirely possible to avoid trying.
An alert editor with some cultural sensitivity could easily have avoided this difficulty by simply rephrasing the sentence: “‘Taylor Ham’ was something I found delicious…” Maybe the Times has already laid off all the sentient copy editors. Maybe the good editors are in the middle of their summer vacations. Or maybe the editors who handled this story were so thoroughly removed from any knowledge or experience of the Jewish dietary laws or of anyone who takes them seriously that it failed to occur to them that describing ham as a “must try” might grate on some Times readers. Maybe the newspaper should have some Jewish group come in and provide sensitivity awareness training or consciousness-raising for editors and reporters, explaining Jewish traditions to Times staffers who are unfamiliar with them.
It’s not that New Jersey is exactly lacking in observant Jews, or even for people who choose vegetarian diets for health, political, or philosophical reasons. But the lone Times reporter in the state doesn’t mention any of them in his article about his experience on the Garden State beat. Instead, he concludes his article with yet a second mandate to readers to consume nonkosher food, this time, bacon:
Oh, and don’t forget to try the bacon-wrapped smoked jalapeño poppers at Local Smoke BBQ in Neptune. They’re the best.
Again, the Times reporter slips into the imperative grammatical mood, crossing over the line from merely describing his own experiences and making the leap instead to ordering Times readers to behave in a certain way: “don’t forget to try.”
I could say: “Don’t forget to cancel your New York Times subscription. It’s the worst.” However, in all but highly unusual cases, I don’t see it as my proper role, as a journalist, to order readers around. The Times apparently has a different view of it. To readers like myself who do not share Mr. Corasaniti’s enthusiasm for ham or bacon, it’s off-putting.
This is, alas, a recurring problem at the Times, which earlier this year touted as “compelling” Senator Schumer’s recipe for pork meatloaf.
More of Ira Stoll’s media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.