Maureen Dowd and Thomas L. Friedman both have Pulitzer Prizes and best-selling books to their names. But as of earlier this month, neither one has a Sunday opinion column in The New York Times.
“I don’t regard one day as any better than another day,” said Gail Collins, Times editorial-page editor. Ms. Collins was on the phone April 19. Nine days earlier, The Times had returned Frank Rich to the Op-Ed section-expanding Sunday’s opinion space and forcing a complete overhaul of the paper’s schedule of columnists.
This has been Ms. Collins’ first major reorganization of the Op-Ed schedule since she took over her job in 2001.
In the process, the familiar division of real estate-if it’s Tuesday, it must be Paul Krugman-has been leveled. And so has the implicit caste system among the columnists.
Ms. Dowd and Mr. Friedman-the homecoming queen and the guru of globalism-had occupied the lofty heights of the Sunday paper, with its circulation of 1.68 million, since 1999. Now they’ve been evicted. In their place, the new tenants are Mr. Rich, transferred in from Arts and Leisure, and David Brooks and Nicholas D. Kristof.
Ms. Dowd and Mr. Friedman also used to share Thursdays. Now they share Wednesdays (as they did till 2003) with his second column appearing on Friday and hers on Saturday-the lowest-circulation day of the week, at 1.05 million.
Ms. Dowd declined to discuss the particulars of the realignment. “It’s been a tough transition,” she said. Mr. Friedman likewise declined to comment.
Ms. Collins said that Ms. Dowd and Mr. Friedman “are both great team players. They’ve been doing it a long time now, and have been through many rotations.”
Indeed, the Friedman-Dowd tandem had been a fixture on the schedule through the goings and/or comings of columnists including A.M. Rosenthal, Bill Keller and Ms. Collins herself.
But this latest realignment-adding both Mr. Rich and John Tierney to the mix-led to a more drastic adjustment. Ms. Collins described distributing columnists as a matter of trying to vary subject matter. For instance, Ms. Collins said, Mr. Kristof and Mr. Friedman, who tend to focus on foreign affairs, would not be paired on the same days.
“We just tried to get a good mix every day,” Ms. Collins said.
Mr. Rich and Ms. Dowd appeared together in the Sunday papers back in 1998. But their current styles and interests mean that the two would have formed a pair of Sunday columnists who share a taste for pop-culture references and a hostility toward the Bush administration. So for Mr. Rich to be relocated from the arts pages to Op-Ed, something had to give.
Or nearly everything had to give. Of the 14 slots in the old schedule, only one-Bob Herbert’s Monday column-survived the shakeup.
And Ms. Dowd ended up on Saturday, paired with Mr. Tierney. Long ago, the two dated, in the days when both worked at the Washington Star. Mr. Tierney said that the two didn’t discuss politics much while they were an item. Now, he said, professional necessity may call for political discussion.
“If we are writing about the same topic on the same day, we’ll talk to each other and make sure we’re not saying the same thing,” the libertarian-contrarian Mr. Tierney said. “But there’s not much chance we would say the same thing.”
Did Ms. Collins have the past in mind when she paired the two off? “I can’t believe you’re asking that,” Ms. Collins said. “That’s a bad question.”
Nor, she said, did she have circulation numbers in mind when she assigned the writers their new days.
“I know some people think Saturday is not a big readership day … but I tend to think on Saturday, you get great readership,” Ms. Collins said.
Mr. Brooks, who moved from Saturday to Sunday, said he remains fond of his old slot and tries not to think about the size of a given day’s readership. “It’s a big nothing for me,” Mr. Brooks said. “I file on Friday, just as I did before.
“I have tremendous affection for Saturday’s paper,” Mr. Brooks added. “Obviously fewer people read it, but I think they read it more closely, because there’s less in there.”
Ms. Collins said she doesn’t believe Ms. Dowd’s popularity will depend on the columnist’s placement.
“Maureen’s readership,” Ms. Collins said, “will follow her wherever she goes.”
On April 14, The New York Times unveiled the Thursday Styles section, its entry in the advertiser-friendly field of shopping journalism, ruled by Condé Nast’s Lucky and Cargo magazines. The front of the section featured a dapper man in a seersucker suit and bow tie, looking a bit like a butched-up Pee-wee Herman.
The model, 27-year-old Cory Osborne, knows his way around a shopper launch. Thirteen months ago, in March 2004, he was on the cover of the debut issue of Cargo.
Back then, Mr. Osborne was not a model by trade. Like all the chiseled men who appeared in Cargo’s first six issues, Mr. Osborne was an amateur-a “regular guy” who had been plucked out of a crowd near Union Square by staff from the magazine’s photo department.
But Mr. Osborne, a photo assistant, has gone pro. The Cargo cover led to a contract with Ford Models. Recently, he became the face of Rockport’s autumn shoe campaign. Another amateur cover model, October/November’s Mitch Ferrin, 33, now has a contract with Click Models, according to Stephanie Prepon, the magazine’s photo and castings editor.
Ms. Prepon said she found Mr. Ferrin shopping outside the meatpacking-district shop Jeffrey.
“We go out on the street and search for real guys to cast, and that can be a serious challenge,” Ms. Prepon wrote in the contributors’ notes in Cargo’s April issue. “But when you find the right person, it’s always worthwhile. It’s like Cargo’s very own Star Search-we’ve actually launched some legit careers.”
The magazine, like its sister Lucky, touted such Schwab’s Drugstore moments as part of its participatory approach to fashion. The chances for such a discovery, however, are steadily dwindling.
Since Mr. Osborne’s debut, Cargo itself has gone pro, as the flow of civilian models onto its pages has slowed to a trickle. In the October/November issue with Mr. Ferrin on the cover, professional models had begun supplanting Ms. Prepon’s “real guys” in the feature well. By December/January, the cover model was a pro, too.
In the current issue, for May, only one non-model model appears-on page 98, in a two-page grooming piece about proper head-shaving technique.
Ms. Prepon said that the switch to professionals was “not a scaling-back sort of thing,” but “an evolution of the process.”
“We did real guys for an entire year, everything was real guys,” Ms. Prepon said. “Men are always really flattered to be approached, but it’s hard to find real guys who can also be a model. I mean, if you do it professionally, you’re comfortable in front of the camera and you can make anything look great. With real guys it’s sometimes hard to get the look right.”
Cargo pays its real-guy models a small fee and covers travel expenses, said Cargo spokesperson Mistrella Murphy.
“The process of casting for real guys is quite time-consuming and a bit difficult,” Ms. Murphy said. “Secondly, their availability is a challenge. They all have real jobs, and to get them to spend eight hours at a shoot is difficult.”
The goal, according to Ms. Murphy, is for the professional mannequins to look better than real. “We generally use models in traditional fashion stories in the well, where every element in those stories should be aspirational,” she said.
In the May issue, physical aspiration was clearly on display in a 10-page feature on high-end jeans. Shirtless men with chiseled torsos modeled the high-end denim, with topless, jeans-clad women as accessories. The women were also professional models, Ms. Prepon said.
While the likes of Hearst and The New York Times are working to put new landmark headquarters in Manhattan, Dow Jones has just seen its own modest architectural signature diminish: This month, the brass lettering of the Dow Jones Building logo disappeared from two of the three main entrances at 1 World Financial Center.
In its place, shiny new signs over the revolving doors at 200 Liberty Street now announce the presence of Cadwalader, Wickersham and Taft LLP. The law firm moved its 800 New York employees into 450,000 square feet, taking up 14 floors of the 40-story building, in January.
The Dow Jones building became Cadwalader’s building under the terms of a 20-year lease the law firm signed on the southernmost of the four Cesar Pelli–designed spires that make up the World Financial Center. Before moving to the complex, just one block west of Ground Zero, the law firm had occupied a smaller space at 100 Maiden Lane in the Financial District.
A spokesperson for Brookfield Properties, the developer and manager of the 1.6-million-square-foot glass-and-steel hive, would not comment on specific terms of the sign swap. A security guard at the site said the Dow Jones signs came down about two weeks ago.
“The idea that they can tear your name off the building, it’s just depressing,” a Wall Street Journal staffer said. “This is a symptom of a larger problem. The Journal has no distinct physical presence. Look at the other great papers-they all have landmark buildings that signify their public presence and give their employees a sense of purpose and place.”
In an e-mail statement, a Dow Jones spokesperson said: “The sign was put in place when Dow Jones rented the majority of the floors in the building and now we don’t rent as many floors here as we once did. Other tenants in the building now do.”
Besides Cadwalader and The Journal, those tenants include Fidelity Investments and accounting and consulting giant Deloitte and Touche. Dow Jones retains signage in areas including lobby elevator banks and the south bridge crossing West Street, but now only one weathered exterior logo.
Dow Jones has had a diminishing presence in lower Manhattan in recent years. After the Sept. 11 attacks, the company reduced its office space from 300,000 square feet to 200,000 square feet, losing such amenities as the employee cafeteria on the 14th floor. The company reduced its number of staffers at 1 World Financial Center from 800 to 550-relocating the others, including the copy desk, to The Journal’s satellite office in South Brunswick, N.J. Since then, rumors have swirled through the Journal news room about future moves to the New Jersey hinterlands.
Cadwalader, meanwhile, is just settling in. “Many law firms have identification outside their buildings; it’s a nice thing to have,” said Cadwalader spokesperson Paula Zirinsky. She said that affixing the firm’s logo to the Liberty Street entrance “gives a sense of permanence in the community.”
“Staying downtown was very important to us,” Ms. Zirinsky said. “Certainly having our name outside the building corresponds with that.”
New York Times pundit standings, April 12-18
1. Paul Krugman, score 23.0 [last week: 2nd]
2. Frank Rich, 17.0 [1st]
3. Thomas L. Friedman, 15.0 [tied-5th]
4. Bob Herbert, 10.5 [tied-5th]
5. Maureen Dowd, 9.0 [3rd]
6. Nicholas D. Kristof, 0.5 [4th]
7. (tie) David Brooks, 0.0 [tied-5th]
John Tierney, 0.0 [no ranking]
Two members of last week’s scoreless last-place trio broke out of the cellar, as Thomas L. Friedman placed two columns in the most e-mailed list and Bob Herbert placed one. Mr. Herbert’s score rose thanks to his column on Franklin Delano Roosevelt-even as Maureen Dowd’s F.D.R.-related column caused her score to drop. Newly minted rightish columnist John Tierney joins not-so-newly-minted rightish columnist David Brooks in the zeros. No column, rightish or leftish, outscored Jennifer 8. Lee’s week-old Sunday Styles trend piece, “The Man Date.”
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