See the NYT cover Nora Ephron's new film, again and again and again and again and again and again . . . in just five days.
It's not possible to count the number of times over the past five days The New York Times, still one of the nation's premier newspapers despite the internet and economic downturn, has covered the new Nora Ephron movie Julie & Julia that debuts next Friday.
There's a Wednesday food section profile of the movie's food stylist Susan Spungen and a Sunday Magazine story by UC Berkeley professor and author Michael Pollan that uses the movie to examine televised cooking shows' popularity in the face of cooking's decline in most overworked Americans' kitchens. The health writer Tara Parker Pope blogs about Pollan's piece; this is followed by an item about Julia Child's original cooking equipment finding a home at the Smithsonian, FYI, a taxpayer supported institution (presentation of which handled by Ephron -- how did she get that gig, I wonder?).
Then, readers of Friday's Movie section see a feature on the film's portrayal of the Childs's happy marriage, justified as worthy of publication because Ephron had a very unhappy marriage with bigwig Washingon DC journalist Carl Bernstein, that she turned into another movie, before finding love at last with another prominent journalist.
The crowning glory is The New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd's Sunday "interview" with Nora Ephron about the film and Ephron's supposedly witty takes on food in the news and popular culture and today's cooking show stars.
I know the Times loves Meryl Streep, the film's star. I know its writers love upscale food, too. Who doesn't like novel and delicious food? I also know how, as Daily Howler writer Bob Somerby describes it, the "tribe" of connected A-list writers, commentators and journalists and their successful peers in Hollywood indulge in logrolling and support of each other's books, movies, columns, and careers.
Still, this blanket wall to wall coverage of just one film by just one paper -- about a cookbook author and television chef, for heaven's sake -- turns my stomach, if you'll pardon the expression in this context. From my perspective it's long past time to protest this kind of conflict of interest highjacking of national media by a certain strand of successful and well-connected professionals. It's bad enough when PBS does it, since taxpayers end up bankroll these peoples' careers.
If any reader of this blog agrees, please feel free to contact The New York Times public editor and The Columbia Journalism Review to lodge a complaint.