Saturday, April 1, 2017

New York Times Launches New Section: War

The new "War" section that will be appearing regularly through the week in the New York Times starting today, the first day of this month.
The New York Times is launching a new section to its daily print edition: “War.”  The new section, which will run multiple days during the week, will, according to the Times description of it, be most closely analogous to its “Sports” section that runs regularly throughout the week.

The new section will replace several other sections the Times is discontinuing, including the Tuesday “Science” section, the Wednesday, “Food” section (previously namedDining”), the Thursday “Style” section and, long a candidate for discontinuance,  the Sunday “Metro” section.

With the United States military now deployed in 70% of the world’s recognized nations, 147 out of 195, an increase of eighty percent since 2010, you pretty much need a score card to keep track of all the skirmishes and battles we are winning around the world by having our teams kill so many people on the other side of these contests.  This section will provide that kind of organization with box scores for each country broken down separately, making it far easier to tell which country and which conflict is which.

Commenting, General Mad Dog Mattis, Trump’s Secretary of Defense, said that the new section with its ongoing scores will be much appreciated by the government saying that it will give the American public a more convincing sense that the nation is making progress with the escalating casualty figures, like recently in Mosul,  laid out in a with more emphatic and celebratory fanfare, “We invest significant resources, in these efforts,” Mattis said, “and it’s important that citizens who often vote, think that we are getting results.”

The box scores will focus on officially released calculations with respect to combatants on each side, not figures that are considered just collateral to the conflict.  

While rationale for the new Times section stems partly from the fact that the United States spends a huge percentage of its budget, more on war than all the rest of the world, and more even than the other significant military powers combined, the new War section will not report on the financial costs or aspects of these world-wide mobilizations.  That job will be left to the "Business" section according to the Times description of what is planned.  “We will be following the pattern and approach we use with the Sports section when we report about such complex and challenging things as the public financing of sports arenas.  Like sports, war in this country is big business, even bigger business than sports, but the business side of things, everything concerning the flow of dollars (and who gets them) is for other people to read about, not the general public whose jobs is to root for us to win when our boys fan out in the field.”

Launching the War section to replace other sections of the paper reflects societal change as well as solves some problems for the paper.  The Times stressed that, in a fast changing world, how the paper is organized is not written in stone.   For instance, Times readers surely noticed when the Times discontinued its once separate “Technology” section, a staple for many years.  Now, instead, if you want to read about the technology and perhaps its implications for surveillance, the Times has substituted by publishing just a few tech-related articles regularly every Thursday, the day the Technology section used to run, plus it covers day-to-day any important tech developments during the week as they occur.

Cutting the Science section at this time makes sense for the Times because the Trump administration is cutting way back on science funding, eliminating climate change information from federal website pages and subjecting federal scientists to gag order restrictions about communicating with the press thus ensuring that the Times will have fewer press release based stories about science to feature.   Conversely, the Trump administration’s budget new budget proposes to increase U.S. military spending by an amount that is roughly equal to the entirety of all of Britain’s military spending.
Recent spending chart from the Times.

One thing not yet decided is whether the new Times War section will cover what happens when increased U.S. Military spending pushes more surplus war equipment out for use by local police departments.  Coverage of this could slipstream nicely within the general ambiance the section expects to cultivate.

The Times is tapping a member of a well known patrician family to helm the new section as editor: Worth Atherton Snarell.  His family has a long history of being represented in the nation’s military exploits, going back to the American Revolution, in nearly all the major wars the United States has been involved in, nearly continuously since its inception and also has had many members who were war correspondents, and under the auspices of Times patriarch Arthur Hays Sulzberger worked and journalists and for the CIA.
In terms of precedent, Mr. Snarell noted that Democracy Now titles its five-day a week hourly news broadcasts “The War and Peace Report.”  We are doing something very different said editor Snarell: “For one thing, we are not dealing with ‘peace’ at all.  Peace is far too flummoxing, subtle and challenging to think about for a public that expects the kind of excitement that keep its entertained and when you get into that kind of thing it confuses what we are supposed to keep straight in our mind about who the good guys and who the bad guys are supposed to be. “

The first issue of the section will publish today, April 1, 2017.   Look for the its letter of introduction to the readers from editor Worth A. Snarell.


  1. Should that be "as journalists for the CIA"?

    Was a given reporter working for both the CIA and for The New York Times?

  2. To David Weinkrantz: Yes, a number of them (per link).

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. I have a copy of today's New York Times. It includes a section named, "The Road to Nowhere." The subject of the section relates to war.

    I do not see a section titled War.

  5. It is now April 3rd and there is still no section titled War.