Sunday Review

The NYTimes has revamped editorials/letters/opinions/essays. It has morphed from the News of the Week in Review to Week in Review and is now Sunday Review. Next it will be SR, to model it after “T.” I like the changes, with a couple of reservations.

First, it gives the impression of more substance and longer articles. Huge graphics and illustrations add to the illusion. Case in point: Joe Nocera’s lead article about driving an electric car. “Is This Our Future?” features a six-column by thirteen inch graphic on the cover and an even bigger one spread across a double truck inside, along with a short explainer comparing makes of electric cars. Thomas Friedman’s “It Has to Start With Them,” about Afghanistan, has a three-column by eight-inch illustration in putrid green and russet.

The section resembles the ones published ten or fifteen years ago, but livelier. There’s a photo on the editorial page of the Gray Lady!

The Times scores high marks with the variety and liveliness of the articles. “Got Twitter? You’ve Been Scored” is a frightening description of “grading” on social media sites to let advertisers know who hefts the greatest influence. I went on Klout, which the author says is the biggest of the rating agencies but stopped short of letting it access my Facebook account for basic information, data at any time, posts in my news feed (as far as I know I don’t have one) and email that it sends me. Big Brother can come and go as far as I’m concerned.

Also excellent is the companion article to Nocera’s, “Oil Oozes Through Your Life.” With just eight paragraphs of text by Stephanie Clifford and an excellent graphic, “Oil” shows it is everywhere: in ice cream, golf balls, makeup, detergent, face cream and on and on.

I do like that the section has omitted the labels “pop culture,” “national,” “international.” I think most readers could figure out that a story with Afghanistan in the headline was an international story. The editors have subbed the annoying labels “news analysis” and “opinion.” If something doesn’t have a label, like “Is This Our Future?” does that mean it’s just news?

It’s too bad the editors axed the cartoons from other newspapers – I always loved seeing the work of Mike Luckovich from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Tony Auth from the Philadelphia Inquirer. I’m reserving judgment on “The Strip,” though I must say that it was a shock to see a color cartoon on the back page of the Sunday Review. Color and comics in the Gray Lady! Using the “Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me!” quiz was genius, though I’m not sure many NYTimes readers will appreciate questions about people who urinate into reservoirs.

Finally, “To Know Us Is to Let Us Love” by Frank Bruni should be required reading for anyone who opposes gay marriage. He is eloquent and cogent with his arguments. And he made me cry, which I know is a first for reading SR, under any name.


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