10 Questions with The New York Times' A.O. Scott


What is A.O. Scott’s critique of the news business? 

It needs “fewer meetings,” and a stronger “sense of adventure” to start, Scott said in an email interview as part of our “10 Questions” series. Oh, and “no more whiteboards.” 

Scott has been with the New York Times since 2000, currently serving as one of its chief film critics. He worked previously at Newsday reviewing books and contributed to numerous other publications, including Slate and The New York Review of Books.

Want to get to know Mr. Scott a little better? Keep reading.

1. If you weren't working in journalism, what would you be doing?

I'd be a bitter, divorced, alcoholic English professor at a second-rate liberal arts college.

2. Who's your favorite journalist or writer - living or dead? 

Joan Didion and David Carr.

3. What could the news business use more of?

A sense of adventure, meaning also a spirit of intellectual adventure, and a recognition that journalism is a kind of thinking.

4. Less of?

A managerial culture of bogus "innovation." Fewer meetings, trainings and brainstorming sessions. Fewer editors. No more whiteboards.

5. Name a piece of journalism that moved you most profoundly.

The Case for Reparations by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

6. What makes you hopeful about the future of journalism?

The creativity and ambition of young people I meet, in colleges and universities and at various media outlets, who refuse to let pessimism about business models stand in the way of their desire to seek and spread the truth. And who are, in many cases, fighting to unionize their workplaces.

7. What worries you?

The obsession with web traffic and digital gimmickry at the expense of solid work. The adoption of highly coercive, process-driven, tech-derived management styles that inhibit creativity while pretending to promote it. The steady erosion of craft traditions and their replacement by futuristic superstitions.

8. When you're not reporting, what occupies your time?

Cooking. Listening to music. Walking. Worrying about my children.

9. Why is being in the Guild better than not being in the Guild?

Because the value of our work is always in danger of being undermined or taken for granted, and the only way we can protect it is together.

10. If you could give someone starting out in journalism one piece of advice what would it be?

Always be kind, and always be skeptical.

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