The New York Times is giving much more space to dogs — perhaps at the expense of humans, a former reporter says in the Columbia Journalism Review.
Ron Howell, a former reporter for Newsday, the New York Daily News and The Associated Press who is now a Brooklyn College associate professor of journalism, has counted 337 references to dogs during pooch-lover Jill Abramson's first four months as executive editor. Over the same period a year earlier, the paper had just 230 dog references, he said.
Abramson is the author of "The Puppy Diaries" and a series of columns about the first year in the life of her puppy, Scout. Which leads Howell to speculate that Abramson is letting canine coverage take up more space.
Why is that a problem? Because it may be at the expense of people, he contends.
"Quite bluntly, in black and in white progressive communities of the city, The Times has a reputation of being a paper of the gentry, arguably a good thing when it comes to vocabulary expansion, but a questionable attribute when it comes to covering people on the racial or social margins," Howell writes.
Howell complained that the Times' undercovers Bedford Stuyvesant, the historically black neighborhood where he was raised, and focuses mostly on white people who are victims of crimes there.
A Times spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.
In Abramson's defense: With newspapers struggling to hold on to human readers, she may just be hoping dogs will learn to read.