It’s a mere blog post. It’s not a rescission order. It’s not a prohibition. But it’s progress.
In this post, New York Times Associate Managing Editor for Standards Philip B. Corbett pokes fun at his own paper’s prolific use of feature writing’s enduring commitment to telling readers what the profile subject was eating during an interview. The title of Corbett’s post — “Man Bites Sandwich” — captures the life-sucking nature of the “so-and-so reflected on his recent past over a Caesar salad” genre: Namely, the lunches and breakfasts and dinners are almost always what we’d expect people to be eating. Weeks ago, the Erik Wemple Blog dinged a New York Times Magazine story on Hillary Rodham Clinton for just this offense.
A few days after the Hammer party, in the midday gloom of the Chateau Marmont hotel, Ms. Goldwyn picked at a salade niçoise and ruminated on her public persona.
And so Corbett advises his colleagues at the New York Times to “think twice next time this sort of detail pops up.” Far from the out-and-out ban that this industry needs, but it’s something. Corbett does note, however, that the consumption witnessed during a reportorial lunch might be worth passing along. “George Clooney ate three Whoppers? The prime minister was guzzling Yoo-hoo?” riffs Corbett.
In today’s news environment, actually, Clooney eating three Whoppers in a single sitting — that’s not just a detail worth noting. That’s a separate story unto itself.