The New York Times once again tiptoed around an awkward subject in a media/entertainment profile, and continues to run TV reviews of popular programs — like the “Homeland” season finale — without any spoiler warnings. More on that latter point in a moment.
The latest lapse profile-wise involves the History channel, and the fact the network’s success — as documented in today’s piece — has a lot to do with shedding, or at least seriously downplaying, “history” as part of its profile.
Yes, the article references “all the jokes about History ignoring the past,” but doesn’t specify what that means, such as a recent “South Park” episode that brutally mocked the channel. Nor was there any mention of “The Kennedys,” the miniseries the channel commissioned and ultimately opted not to air, which wound up on ReelzChannel; or any comment from historians lamenting the channel’s reliance on programs like “Pawn Stars.”
In the bigger scheme of things, it’s not a huge deal, but I’d like to expect more from the Times. Besides, it’s not like History wouldn’t have cooperated with a profile about how well they’re doing if the paper had bothered to point out more explicitlynot everyone’s thrilled about the direction they’ve taken getting there.
Anyway, if you don’t flag these things when they happen, they have a way of repeating themselves. Sort of like that old adage about history.
AS FOR THE “HOMELAND” REVIEW featured in Monday’s paper, without belaboring my earlier complaint about TV critic Alessandra Stanley doing a similar thing on “Mad Men,” this just strikes me as poor customer service. You want people to eagerly seek out opinions on such programs — and one would assume the “Homeland” audience is pretty sophisticated, in terms of overlap with Times readership — but it seems naive to assume everyone who’s interested watched the episode immediately. DVRs, anyone?
This has nothing to do with being a shill for the networks’ PR efforts and everything to do with taking a simple precaution so as not to potentially alienate readers. You can still write about the episode in detail; just provide a small disclaimer. Doesn’t sound like too much to ask.