There’s an early scene in CQ/CX—a new off-Broadway play about The New York Times that does not pretend any character’s resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental—in which the guy based on Jayson Blair encounters a veteran editor at the paper’s favored watering hole.
“Started as a copy boy 43 years ago in March,” the old-timer brags as he fetches Jayson a Glenlivet. “Only job I ever had.”
Mistaking Jayson for a news clerk—one rung above the copy boy—the editor can hardly believe such a young man had written all those page one stories. (For good reason, it turned out.)
“Used to take years to get a byline,” he remarks. “Now they hand them out like candy.”
Well, maybe not that easy. But cultural changes at The Times over the past 20 years mean the newsroom grunts probably aren’t angling for bylines, anyway. Job openings dwindled with the economy, hiring scrutiny ramped up (thanks, Jayson), and the career track that gave the Times copy boy job its retroactive glamour (Arthur Gelb, Gay Talese and Robert Rosenthal all did stints) ceased to exist. Read More