New York Times Does Its New York Post Imitation

The New York media world is a small one, full of the sort of scheming, intrigue and exquisitely self-serving political maneuvering that would make a French courtesan proud. And, like the minutiae of Louis XIV’s court, most of it is interesting only to the involved or the obsessed.

The Internet is, of course, the ideal medium for both of those groups, and sites like Gawker and Jossip make a very good living catering to both of them.

One such story popped up yesterday. Last week, Gawker posted an internal email memo about Internet service going out at the offices of Conde Nast Publications. Conde Nast apparently traced the leak to a freelance research analyst, and cut off his contract, which Gawker reported yesterday.

It’s the sort of thing that happens every day in the corporate world: someone does something that their employer doesn’t like, so that someone gets fired.

Somehow, however, the New York Times decided this particular bit of gossip was worthy of an item in today’s paper. The story, by the usually reliable Katharine Seelye, does little but recapitulate the original post on Gawker (the online version of the Times piece even comes complete with a screenshot of the original Gawker item).

Moreover, there’s a larger subtext to the firing that the Times missed. As a commenter on Gawker asks, “isn’t the issue most likely not THIS particular memo, but the fact that [Conde Nast] memos are frequently leaked to Gawker? If I were Conde Nast I would probably assume that when a Gawker contributor is caught leaking one memo, he has very likely leaked others (and water cooler gossip as well), and should maybe be removed from a position in which he has that kind of access.” (Perhaps the Times should have assigned the commenter to the story?)

Granted, the Times did put the story on page C18, just this side of “not in the paper.”

Still, this seems like one that could have been consigned to the latter category — or to Page Six of the New York Post — with no particular loss for Times readers.

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Bryan Keefer was CJR Daily’s deputy managing editor.