Dear NY Times: Scaring readers is not enough

NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 14:  The New York Times he...

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Ever wonder why newspapers are shedding readers almost as fast as advertisers?

One reason, I suspect, is that they’re losing touch with what information people who read them need.  Today’s New York Times provides a textbook example. On the front page, the paper has a chilling and fascinating account of Toyota’s slow reaction to mounting evidence that problems with its cars’ gas pedals could prove deadly.

The story starts with the fiery death of four people and then jumps to Page 11, where it has a nifty timeline of crashes and subsequent Toyota warnings, a bar chart showing declines in the company’s U.S. sales, pictures and the rest of a substantial, 2,000-word article.

Just one small thing is missing.  The Times never says what models and years are being recalled.

Come on.  As the owner of two Toyotas, that is absolutely the first piece of information I wanted to know, even if it was published a week or two ago. If you’re going to scare me as a wake-up call, try informing me, too!

Just for the record, Toyota announced today that it will begin fixing the accelerator pedals of 2.3 million U.S.-sold vehicles from these models and years.

• Certain 2009-2010 RAV4
• Certain 2009-2010 Corolla
• 2009-2010 Matrix
• 2005-2010 Avalon
• Certain 2007-2010 Camry
• Certain 2010 Highlander
• 2007-2010 Tundra
• 2008-2010 Sequoia

Dear editor, I should not have had to look that up online. I buy two papers to learn such things.

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About jerrylanson

I teach, write, coach and sing, though you're not required to listen to the latter. I'm a journalism professor at Emerson College in Boston. My third book, "Writing for Others, Writing for Ourselves," was published in November by Rowman & Littlefield Publishing. You can read a sample chapter at www.jerrylanson.com. My passions are politics (generally liberal in outlook), music, mountains, golden retrievers and my grandchildren, though not in that order. Please stop by and mix it up with me. I always answer those who post.
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3 Responses to Dear NY Times: Scaring readers is not enough

  1. Claudia Deutsch says:

    Out of fairness, they really have said it in the past — and have so again today. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/02/business/02questions.html

    • Jerry Lanson says:

      They did, but not in the morning paper. I’ll concede. The Times is a big and thus easy target. But as arguably the best paper in the country, it really shouldn’t have had that little box in the morning paper. First rule of journalism: Never assume your reader remembers what was in the paper last week. A friend in Pennsylvania had precisely the reaction I did this morning. She raced on line to figure out if her car was about to crash into a tree.

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention Dear NY Times: Scaring readers is not enough - Jerry Lanson - News Prints - True/Slant -- Topsy.com

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