Saturday, January 31, 2004

# Posted 9:05 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

DON'T READ THIS! Stop now. I told you not to read this. Oh, alright. Fine. If you're going to be that way, just go ahead. Anyhow, in case you haven't heard, Slate media critic Jack Shafter has been launching high-profile attacks on the NYT Magazine for running an allegedly unsubstantiated story about sex slavery in the United States.

The first critic to call the NYT on its questionable reporting was blogger Daniel Radosh, who was rewarded for his trouble with personal threats from the article's author, Peter Landesman. Landesman's editor and then Landesman himself apologized for going overboard. But both of them still stand by the story.

After going through all of this material, I'm left wondering why I bothered with it in the first place. Mainly, I guess, because it involves two of my favorite subjects: First, sex. Second, incompetence at the NYT. (If Jayson Blair had been directing X-rated films in the back offices on 43rd St, you can bet OxBlog would've provided daily coverage.) Even so, I felt after going through it all that I had wasted my time.

Why? Perhaps because it all seemed so petty and sensational. Then again, if sex slavery is a serious issue, we should be reading about it. Perhaps because I found Shafter's criticism persuasive, the seriousness of the issue not the first thing on my mind. So before you go and follow the links in this post, decide if that's what you really want. After all, if you'd followed my advice, you wouldn't have even gotten this far.

NB: I have consistently referred the NYT's offices as being on 44th St, even though they are most definitely on 43rd. This is a particularly embarrassing mistake for a native New Yorker, especially one who had the chance to visit the Times' offices as a student journalist in high school. What I can't remember is whether or not the NYT building goes through the entire block and has windows on 44th St. If so, I'd at least feel somewhat vindicated.
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