Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Who Should Be The Next NYT Columnist?

Pretty interesting ideas bandied about here by Henry Farrell and Daniel Drezner:

(alt. video links: this segment | entire diavlog)

A lot does depend on what the NYT brass want for the position, of course. If they want to toss a bone to the Right, or check a box, or stir up controversy, that's one thing. But if they do want someone who has new ideas and can write, that's another. The two sets of criteria are not perfectly mutually exclusive, of course, but different priorities do shuffle the lists of candidates a lot.

I'm hoping, of course, that the NYT is looking less for buzz and more for quality, and to that end, I thought the distinction Dan drew between Safire and Kristol was smart -- as with any other hire, you have to keep in mind what the employee's longer-term goals are, and how they may conflict with performance in the here and now.

[In the case of Kristol specifically, there are of course other complaints -- he's not much of a writer, and his column strongly indicated laziness, both intellectual and otherwise. Bill Safire on his worst day was way better than Kristol, who is so mediocre, I refuse to say that he had a best day.]

And speaking of the here and now, the whole conversation between Henry and Dan is quite good. Other topics covered:

  • Obama’s foreign policy advisors get stuck in a tunnel of doom
  • The Obama administration’s first diplomatic gaffes
  • Geithner accuses China of currency manipulation
  • Did the “Israel Lobby” help or hurt its authors’ careers?
  • Dan dares young social scientists to be bolder

Click the "entire diavlog" link above to stream or download it.

(The gist of the above cross-posted on the BH.tv forums)

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