Pottered Out

No more magic in the Times

It’s easy enough for me to pick on The New York Times. It’s the paper that greets me every morning on my doorstep, and if any news source is going to annoy or please me over time, than it’s the Times. That’s the caveat. Here’s the complaint: Enough already with the Harry Potter! In the last week alone, ten articles have been written about the boy wizard, beloved of ten-year-olds and tragically stunted adults everywhere. And no section is safe. Both Times movie reviewers put their critical eyes to work in a long piece about the five films so far inspired by the books. In the Arts section, there was even an article about the man who does the voiceover for Harry in the audio tape version of the series. And many more stories have followed about the excitement building around the release of the (mercifully) last book in the series this coming Saturday and possible leaks of the secret ending. But today really took the cake. In the A section of the paper – you know the section with news about car bombings in Iraq, the presidential campaign, and nuclear reactors in North Korea – there is the first review of the book, by the estimable Michiko Kakutani, no less.

Am I being harsh and elitist? Perhaps. Also, I don’t have any children and fantasy, frankly, was never my thing. Still, even with a big cultural moment like the end of this very lucrative and popular series, there is such a thing as over-saturation. And at a certain point it’s legitimate to wonder if journalists are covering the hype or creating it themselves.

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Gal Beckerman is a former staff writer at CJR.