Ted Kennedy: NYT Co. "The Premier Brand In Journalism"

Sen. Ted Kennedysigned aletter to Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr., criticizing the New York Times Co.for failing to live up to its reputation as "the premier brand in journalism" in its dealings with The Boston Globe, Paul Tharp reports in this morning's New York Post.

"The New York Times Co. reeled yesterday from a 39 percent drop in profits as it came under a surprise attack from liberal politicians for gutting and damaging its sister Boston Globe.

"The profits bomb came as Sulzberger got scolded yesterday by a group of prominent politicians and business leaders in Boston, led by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), claiming Sulzberger and his team have committed a 'terrible shame' by gutting the paper since acquiring it in 1993.

"In a letter to Sulzberger, Kennedy and others said 'a troubling pattern of disinvestment, downsizing, outsourcing and cost cutting has emerged' to damage the fabled paper.

"'A shrinking news hole and the elimination of bureaus have stung the morale of employees facing in creased health care costs and wage freezes.'

"The group said 'Boston Globe journalists have risked their lives and, in some cases, given their lives' to uphold 'a long and storied tradition of excellence.'

"'What a terrible shame it would be if the premier brand in journalism - The New York Times Co. - was responsible for doing genuine harm to that tradition.'"

Mitchell Zuckoff, journalism professor at Boston University, is queasy about the Globe's union seeking help from pols, concluding: "I don't want to malign the motives of the letter signers, but every one of them could potentially benefit from doing a good deed for the reporters, photographers, copy editors, and other union journalists who cover them. That means the union's request was a textbook case of seeking favors from sources and subjects."

The Times own story on the paper's fall in earnings is buried on page C-7 of the Business section, with the Times' shrinking advertising revenues portrayed as just an example of an industry-wide malaise.

The paper's own article doesn't mention the Kennedy letter; perhaps the Times figures news of the ultra-liberal senator from Massachusetts calling the NYT Co. "the premier brand in journalism" wouldn't enhance the New York Times' corroded reputation for fairness. (The Times will no doubt return the compliment by continuing to refuse to call Kennedy a liberal.)