In the Times' Public Editor column this week, Arthur Brisbane addresses a reader's concern that the paper of record's Dining Section has a bias towards the wealthy of New York, as evidenced by Sam Sifton's reviews of predominantly expensive restaurants. Noting that the $25 and Under column does not receive equal billing—it was reduced to every other week two years ago—the reader writes, "Whether The Times likes it or not, its reviews reinforce descriptive and prescriptive norms about class. They convey how people are, as well as how people should be. On both accounts, poor folks don’t measure up."
Editor Pete Wells defends the section, saying that the expensive restaurants are often the exceptional ones, and Sifton has a duty to cover them. Terrible expensive restaurants make it into the column as a warning to unsuspecting diners. Here's the Public Editor's verdict: "Balance reviews of high-end establishments more evenly with reviews of cheaper 'finds' and that way accommodate both ends of the audience that gravitates to The Times..." That could mean a return of the weekly Under, and necessarily, an increase in outer borough coverage. Which will probably spur more complaints from a different set of readers.
· Dining Out on Different Budgets [NYT]