24 May 2009

New York Times' City Section Gone

Back in March, there was a flurry of stories stating that the New York Times' Sunday-only City Section was headed for the dustbin, the victim on the pinched budgets and dwindling cash flow over at the Paper of Record.

The Times, however, refused to comment one way or another. And the City Section just kept appearing, filled, as always, with quirky and interesting tales of Gotham seen on an extremely local level.

Today, however, it can't be found. On the Times website, the City Section used to be fairly easy to locate on a Sunday. Sometimes it won a spot on the Home Page. More commonly, all you had to do was click on N.Y/Region, and it led you to a page where you could spot an obvious link to the City Section. Today, there are just a lot of multimedia slide shows and blog links where the City Section link used to be. I've searched the site far and wide and can't find the section. When I did finally locate the City Section link (by tracing it through a previous City Section story), it led me to last Sunday's line-up of stories. My fear is that May 17 was the final edition of the section.

The City Section was created in 1993, meaning it had a 16-year run—not bad, when all is said and done. I'm sad to see it go. For many years, it was my favorite section of the Sunday paper. It had those flavorful, small-scaled reports that gave you an idea of the kind of town New York really was; it told you the big picture by zooming in on a lot of small pictures.

Since beginning this blog, I have at times been more impatient with the editorial approach of the section than I had been in the past. My feeling was that it was missing the boat the wide-scale demolition of small businesses and the cultural fabric of neighborhoods instigated by the pro-development, pro-wealth, anti-preservation policies of the Bloomberg administration. Still, it was still capable of unearthing wonderful stories of New York's varied cultures and rich history. It's a loss for the paper, and the City. No way around it.


Robert Cashill said...

It's gone. In its place is a tepid something called "Metropolitan," a seeming catch-all for other sections it's given the boot, or plans to--which you'd realize if you actually, like, bought the paper. :) Reading newspapers online, for free, is no way to keep them alive. Then again, blogs like yours probably killed the reason for doing City. I hope you're happy.

Anonymous said...

You have to wonder just how much money the Times saved by canceling the section. Probably barely enough to cover a month's Louie the Loanshark interest on the money it borrowed from Carlos Slim.


Brooks of Sheffield said...

I used to buy it quite often. But the price kept going up. And while the cost may not seem like much to the Sulzbergers, it is to poor working slobs like me. Sad to say, when I buy myself the Times these days, it's like I'm treating myself to a luxury.

Anonymous said...

The NY Times is too costly for
we people that still have the time to read .
I know a doorman in Gramercy park
that saves me a clean copy as a
I don't care for James Barron's
version of what our city should be.
Perhaps wed to a Medical Dr. he does not have to suffer too much as we old working class folk do in
Barron's past stories on the creation of a Steinway piano made in NY are wonderful, what happened to the rest of his writing skills?

ChickenUnderwear said...

I miss the City Section. It was the reason I bought the paper. I found out by getting this reply to a question I submitted to FYI........................

As you may have read, The New York Times is eliminating its City section on Sundays and folding it into a more compact zoned metropolitan section. Regrettably, the F.Y.I. column will not survive that transition. I expect the final column, which has already been written, to be in the Sunday paper of May 17. I will be continuing as an editor at The Times, but will not be able to answer F.Y.I. questions anymore. Thank you for your interest in the F.Y.I. column, which enjoyed a 16-year run.

Michael Pollak "

Pressed said...

Lost City said: "[A]ll you had to do was click on N.Y/Region, and it led you to a page where you could spot an obvious link to the City Section."

The fact that you're CLICKING on it alludes to the problem.
The NYT is losing money, discrete print sections COST money, there's no point in having a dedicated print section if people just follow online "local news" links (for free, even) ... and if people are so inclined, they can get the same stuff (with more frequent updates) from some other, specialized online source.
Just wait until the print NYT becomes a boutique item -- and we're charged a subscription fee for the online version.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

I get it guys: my reading the Times on-line, and not paying for the paper, is part of the problem. But, for the record, I looked for the City Section in the paper proper first. Then I went on-line to confirm my suspicion that it wasn't there.

The Times is going out of business for many, many reasons, the cost of the paper and the free web version being just two of them. Do you really think the newspaper would suddenly be back on good footing if everyone now reading the website for free suddenly started buying the paper? No way. That wouldn't brink the cost of paper down, or bring advertising back, or make the recession disappear, or lessen the burden of the NYT's mortgage or many huge loans.

I'm not saying the City Section is going down for no reason. Of course there are reasons. Many reasons. But I can still mourn it, can't I?

EV Grieve said...

Vanity Fair Daily had a piece on the City Section this past Friday...


jack Littlefield said...

We subscribe to the Times ,and I had not realized the City Section was gone until this weekend. I have to work every other Sunday and I thought the section had just been lost or that I had misplaced it somewhere because working Sundays do not allow for extended reading periods. That suppliment comes on Sunday rather than some of the others that arrive on Saturday.The City Section was my favorite section, because it covered the nieghborhoods of our city,New York City. It kept me up to date on the flavor and nuances of our diverse, changing nieghborhoods and the personalities that live there. I would like to suggest (beg really, on bended knee if need be) to PLEASE at least replace the FYI section somewhere else in the Sundat edition(Metropolitan?,Styles? anywhere?) I'm a paid subscriber. I want this FYI in our New York Times. Please think of your subscribers!

Sue, former Upper West Sider said...

The City section and the Saturn: both smart, both loved by loyal followers, both eliminated in the name of the economy. The rationales no longer make sense, yet that no longer matters. After a lifetime in Manhattan I moved to Park Slope in April. I love it here, but the City Section was a bond with my past - it inter-connected the five boroughs.It was ours in a Sunday paper that has become more national and international than local. It served as my proof that I do indeed still live in the same city - just across the bridge. But the sad truth is: I live in a different world, we all do. And we have lost so much more than the City Section this year, haven't we? I wish we'd had a vote... At least we had 16 good years.

Sue Schneider