The Creative Meltdown That Is
Like many others I felt outraged by a featured story in the magazine section of last Sunday’s New York Times, The Creative Apocalypse That Wasn’t. At the suggestion of Chris Castle, lawyer and respected blogger who has been fighting on the side of artists since 2007, I sent a letter to Margaret Sullivan, Public Editor at The Times, expressing my disappointment and betrayal by The Times for running such a biased, factually inaccurate article.
“Thank you for contacting the public editor. My assistant and I read every message that we receive. Please note that this office deals specifically with issues of journalistic integrity at The New YorkTimes. Due to the number of e-mails that we receive on a daily basis, we are not able to respond personally to everyone who writes.”
Margaret Sullivan; Public Editor, New York Times
Attn: Margaret Sullivan
I’ve always looked to the NYT for solid, truthful reporting and while you’ve had your moments where you’ve faltered, this story never should have seen the light of day.
First off the article is basically a rehash of Mike Masnick’s ‘The Sky is Rising‘, a much derided and criticized overview of the entertainment industry and how in January of 2012 things were actually looking up for artists. Many of the points made in Masnick’s Techdirt post and ‘The Creative Apocalypse That Wasn’t‘ are actually the same ones used by the proponents of online piracy attempting to make a case for the positive attributes of illegal free file sharing.
No coincidence that the author referenced Napster, even challenging the statements of Lars Ulrich, which many of us in the pro-artist camp see as prescient given the fifteen years that have passed since Ulrich testified under oath.
What I find even more difficult to understand. The NYT is struggling in the digital economy itself, just like authors, filmmakers, musicians and photographers. I’m sure I don’t need to point out that your own David Carr talked about this extensively in the 2011 documentary ‘Page One: Inside the New York Times‘.
While it was encouraging to see the outpouring of over 200 detailed, predominantly negative comments about shoddy research and flawed conclusions, tens of thousands of your readers probably never saw them. They may have even believed the fairy tale. Some Congressmen may use the article as validation for maintaining the statue quo as they debate critical changes to our copyright laws for the first time since 1976. Not to mention the highly problematic and counter-productive Section 512, Take Down notification process contained in the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
I have spent nearly every day for the past four years following and writing about the destruction that is happening to our creators by a distribution network taken over by tech companies. Companies run by individuals with limited understanding of the needs of those who create the content that powers their success.
It is probably asking to much for the New York Times to print a retraction of the article, but your readers and every working journalist, artist, author, filmmaker, musician and photographer deserves to hear the truth, as does the public.
Here are two articles written in response that you might consider running in rebuttal:
Steve Johnson & A Thesis that Isn’t by David Newhoff
William Buckley Jr.
Photo Credit: iStock © Panmaule