Today the following appeared in a New York Times article on London taxicabs:
I can just imagine the discussion in the Times newsroom during the preparation of this article.
"Hey Phil, I’m writing a story on London taxicabs. Do you have anyone in your Rolodex who might be able to give us a quote on how the London cabs rank in the world of transportation? I was thinking of, you know, an ivory-tower, humanities type. "
“Sure, I’ve got just the person: Elaine Showalter. She’s a feminist author, on the English faculty down at Princeton. She used to be president of the Modern Language Association.”
“The MLA, you say? Get me her email address, pronto!”
I rank this down there with the entertainment press quoting pop singers on international trade law, except this isn’t the entertainment press, it was a straight article on London cabs, and there was no irony intended in quoting someone specifically identified as an English professor on the topic of the transportation technology. Not cabs from a feminist perspective, or a literary perspective, but a technical perspective. I guess it’s a good thing she didn’t start waxing poetic on the pros and cons of the limited-slip differential.
By the way, I’m a non-journalist giving my opinion about journalism practices. So flail away.