Regular readers of this blog over the years are more than passingly aware of our numerous, um, criticisms of the quality of the arts coverage of the mainstream media, particularly the daily mainstream media, in terms of its content, its writers, and the makeup of its pages, our most frequent target being the arts pages of The New York Times. We most frequently target The Times because it's our "native" newspaper, so to speak (although not a native New Yorker, we've been reading the arts pages of The Times since our junior high school days); a newspaper that's often, and for good reason, referred to as America's "National Newspaper of Record"; and because of the precipitous descent in the quality and content of those pages over the past couple years or so in particular.
Well, the man most responsible for that descent — New York Times culture editor, Sam Sifton, who was appointed culture editor of The Times in 2005 — is holding court and fielding reader questions this week in The Times's Talk to the Newsroom section of the newspaper, and so we thought we might ask a question or ten of Mr. Sifton. But all we could think of to ask was the simple question:
What specially qualifies you to "overse[e] the daily Arts pages ... and [the] Arts & Leisure [section]" of any major broadsheet, much less The New York Times, our "National Newspaper of Record"?
Needless to say, and as expected, our question wasn't published, and no answer was otherwise forthcoming.
We don't blame Mr. Sifton for that, actually, as the question was both unseemly and exceedingly rudely put, and aggressive in the extreme into the bargain. And so we went a-Googling for an answer. And what did we find? This, from the 2005 Times press release announcing Mr. Sifton's appointment as the culture editor of The Times:
Mr. Sifton, 38, has been deputy culture editor at The Times since 2004. He joined The Times in 2001 as deputy Dining editor, and became Dining editor later that year. Previously he was a founding editor of Talk magazine where he worked until 1998. Before joining Talk he held a number of positions at the New York Press from 1990 to 1998, including managing editor, media critic, senior editor, contributing editor and restaurant critic. Before joining the New York Press he taught social studies in New York City public schools from 1990 to 1994. Before that, he was an assistant editor at American Heritage from 1988 to 1990.
Mr. Sifton graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College with a B.A. degree in history and literature in 1988. He is author of A Field Guide to the Yettie (Talk Miramax Books, 2000).
Pretty much explains just about everything, doesn't it.