Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Book Flack Nightmare

In the sports section of yesterday's New York Times, Greg Bishop had an article about how Dwight Lowery is bouncing back from a "crisis of confidence" after a difficult rookie season with the New York Jets. The turning point came when Lowery and his girlfriend stopped in a store he describes as "total Zen" in a shopping mall in Santa Cruz, California. "Tucked among the shelves filled with teas, incense and bamboo sticks, Lowery found a row of books," Bishop writes. "He took a liking to the first one he picked up, a book that took a self-help approach to building self-esteem. Even though Lowery cannot remember the title, he said those pages provided the beginnings of his turnaround."

What? He can't remember the title? Of the book that changed his life? Surely Bishop could have pressed him about it just a little: "Hey Dwight, any chance you can take a moment to scan your shelves and tell me the name of that book that turned your life around?" Wasn't Bishop's editor even a little curious? Couldn't the Times fact checkers have put that on their to-do list? Not having the title of this destiny-altering book leaves a bit of a hole at the center of the article.

Think of all the Times readers who might have benefited from that same life-changing book, if only they knew what it was. Think of the author, who might have benefited from a nice plug by a pro football player in the pages of the New York Times. Think of the book's frustrated publicist, who saw a major national media break go up in smoke because of a curious lack of curiosity at the Times. I'm glad I'm not that book flack.

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