Sunday, January 12, 2014

The New York Review of Books II

After commenting at The Chronicle of Higher Education recently I was struck by how open it was compared to the NYRblog.  The comments appear immediately, without moderation, and you can almost have a real-time discussion with other commenters.  Comparatively speaking, the NYRblog is run by a Nazi regime.  All comments are moderated, and often the moderation occurs only once a day, sometimes taking several days. Thus, if you make a comment on Monday, it may appear on Tuesday.  If someone makes a comment on your comment, that probably won't appear until Wednesday, etc. The process is like pulling teeth.  I must also mention that if a moderator doesn't like your comment for any reason, he or she may delete it.  This goes beyond profanities, insults and incoherence.  If they disagree with your comment or believe that it is too critical of the NYRB or one of its writers, they may delete it.  There is no discussion with the moderator, and you have no recourse.  This has happened to me more than once. For example, I submitted a comment on Tim Parks's article of January 11, which was not positive but certainly was civil and honest, and it was deleted.  I suspect, after writing emails last year to Matthew Howard, Director of Electronic Publishing, Robert Silvers, Editor, and Rea Hederman, Publisher, in which I complained about the decline of the NYRB, and to which I received no replies, that I have been blackballed by the NYRB. This is the best they could do for a long-term subscriber to the print edition and the most prolific commenter at the NYRblog since its inception.  The warm and fuzzy feeling that is simulated on their website is basically a lie.

I had hoped to generate some discussion here about the limitations of the NYRB in order to find or create better means of discussing issues that interest me.  I am terribly disappointed with the NYRB but have no interest in leading some sort of vendetta against it.  At this point I  would go further than Russell Jacoby does in his excellent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education and say that it's a lost cause.  Whatever intellectual interest it ever had has mostly evaporated.  I only wish that I could find an adequate substitute.

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