The New York Times is the best newspaper in the country – until it leaves the city.
Yesterday’s example: Portrait of the South, Served Up One Waffle House Order at a Time. If you didn’t read it and don’t want to, here’s the bullet…
Waffle Houses dominated the news last weekend, first when a “seminude gunman” shot and killed four people in Nashville, then when three white cops arrested a black woman outside Mobile, Alabama.
So naturally, The New York Times saw a trend and dispatched a reporter. Once embedded in a foreign land, he drew broad and stupid conclusions.
Let’s start with that headline. “Portrait of the South”? All 11 Southern states neatly summed up in 1,008 words about Waffle House?
Here’s how the story began…
NASHVILLE — In the South, there sometimes seems no place more omnipresent than Waffle House, with its yellow-and-black signs surfacing near interstate exits, dotting night life districts and showing up in wealthy suburbs and run-down rural towns alike.
The ubiquity, cultivated over decades of syrup-soaked waffles and strong coffee, makes the 24-hour chain’s booths and barstools a round-the-clock reflection of the South and invites every kind of story, some chronicled on Instagram, others in mug shots.
If you don’t grasp why this is both absurd and insulting, let’s turn it around. While most Waffle Houses are in the South – although they’re also in Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania – every state in New England has a Denny’s. There are 34 in New York City alone. (This is how.)
Portrait of the North, Served Up One Denny’s Order at a Time
BROOKLYN – In the North, there sometimes seems no place more omnipresent than Denny’s, with its yellow-and-red signs surfacing near subway entrances, dotting ethnic districts, and showing up near wealthy walk-ups and run-down public housing projects alike.
The ubiquity, cultivated over decades of Moons Over My Hammy and Signature Diner Blend coffee, makes the 24-hour chain’s booths and tables a round-the-clock reflection of the North and invites every kind of story, some chronicled on Instagram, others in mug shots.
Fucked up, right?
Thing is, The New York Times has covered this same story better. Back in 2006, it ran this unadorned headline: Another Killing at a Denny’s, Fourth in 3 Days. The story didn’t add a layer of geocentric arrogance because all the killing happened in…California.