Hit/miss: a conference at The New York Times

April 22nd, 2010

The New York Times is known around the world as a prestigious and reputable news source. In New York City, it is the namesake of Times Square.

Last weekend, it was also the site of “Inside The Times,” a workshop for college newspaper editors. Bob Seeholzer and I were two of those editors. With high hopes and the desire for another resume bullet, we boarded the plane for La Guardia Airport. 

The whirlwind trip began on Sunday afternoon. After one large pizza, several cans of Coke, and one very dull seminar, the trip was over.

The trip was a hit and miss, so that is how I will recap it for you. In the style of The CN’s editorial page, here is my Times trip Hit/miss starting from the beginning. 

Hit: We flew to New York instead of driving.

Hit: We ordered a large Villa pizza in the airport and saved by buying in bulk.

miss: It took so long to make it, that by the time it was done we had to take the entire large pizza on the plane with us.

miss: It barely fit down the aisle.

Hit: Our hotel was very close to Times Square.

miss: It was also next to a shady night club with a bouncer who had “TapOut” shaved into his head.

Hit/miss: According to “Tapout” is a brand of clothing for martial artists.

Hit/miss: Walking around Times Square after midnight listening to Bob recording on the “I am T-Pain” app. 

[We were] miss(ing): sleep the night before the conference.

Hit: There was a free continental breakfast.

miss: They were out of orange juice.

Hit: Lectures from Managing Director for Education, Susan Mills; Deputy Managing Editor, Bill Schmidt; Blogs and Continuous News reporter, Jenna Wortham; Director of The New York Times Student Journalism Institute, Don Hecker; Metropolitan reporter, Mireya Navarro; and Investigative Reporter, David Barstow.

miss: They were all lectures, not presentations. Only two included handouts, and not one had graphic aids.

miss: Most of the information included very basic editing tips for a room full of editors.

Hit: The lobby of The Times has really cool artwork called “movable type.” It selects words, phrases, and incomplete thoughts from The Times newsroom and projects them on small electronic screens. The variety and frequency reflects the productivity of the newsroom. It serves as a pretty cool form of artwork.

miss: We didn’t get to see anything at The Times except the lobby and a conference room.

Hit: I stumbled upon their cafeteria while I was looking for an approved place to use my cell phone. It was also pretty cool.

Hit: The Times building is environmentally friendly.

miss: We heard way too much about it because one of the other scheduled speakers didn’t show.

Hit: Lunch was pretty good and included three types of cookies.

Hit: Barstow told us about when a minister took out an $80,000 hit on his life because of an article Barstow wrote about the man’s church related fraud.

miss: Several editors told us we’re crazy for getting into this field and that we’d never make much money.

Hit: They said we should stick with it anyway.

Hit: They gave us a free water bottle, hat, pen, notebook, Frisbee and drawstring bag.

I am very grateful that I was able to attend, but the conference was slightly underwhelming. 

I was expecting intriguing editors with bold presentations and a tour of the building. It is The New York Times after all, not the Sun Press. Even at The Carroll News we’ll give you a tour if you ask nicely.