OLD Media Moves

NYT biz section view of the world

January 15, 2006

TheDeal.com is a web site that many business journalists look at for information about mergers and acquisition news.

But it also has a regular feature called Media Maneuvers, and on Friday it critiqued a New York Times’ business section profile of Michael Kopper, the former Enron executive who was the first to plead guilty in the accounting scandal.

The Deal’s writer, Yvette Kantrow, didn’t think much of the piece. She wrote: “The Jan. 8 piece clearly has pretensions of providing us with an in-depth personality probe of Kopper, who three years ago became the first Enron Corp. executive to plead guilty and to turn government witness, thereby avoiding jail, at least so far. But at the end of the day, we’re left with a typically Timesian view of the world, where people are best summed up by, for lack of a better word, their class.

“The formula is simple: Take a few choice factoids about a subject’s background – where they grew up, where they went to school, what their parents did – throw in some anonymous quotes sourced to ‘friends,’ add a few facile cliches, or better yet, literary references, and – voila! – instant character portrait, New York Times business section style. For extra panache, run it on a Sunday, when people have more time to savor that Andy Fastow-as-Gatsby reference. Accurate? Not really. But it sure sounds good.”

Read the entire Deal.com piece here.

I’d link to the actual profile by Landon Thomas Jr., but it’s been taken of f the NYT web site. The lead was this: “MOST mornings these days, Michael J. Kopper wakes up early, slips on a pair of khakis and hops into his Nissan sport utility vehicle for the short commute from his duplex in a Houston suburb to his job at Legacy Community Health Services, a community clinic.”

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