Saturday, July 21, 2007

Did The Times Betray Harry Potter Fans?

So maybe this is a cultural phenomenon not to be ignored, and maybe not everyone shares my high opinion of Clark Hoyt, at least when he takes on Harry Potter:
Did New York Times Blog:
“I think it’s important to remember that there was never a contract or an agreement between The Times and Rowling or her publisher.”

That does NOT give you right to be so disrespectful to Jo Rowling or her fans. I would have thought that a paper, like the New York Times, would have been able to use their common sense to realise how big this is; you’re doing nothing but embarrass yourselves. You’re proving that you’re no different from the vermin out there, trying to get their name in the headlines for selling the book early. So many papers look up the New York Times, but you’re just sinking lower and lower when you disrespect Jo Rowling and her fans. Stop trying to be the top at everything; have some compassion and sympathy; have some damn respect and patience.— Posted by Kelsi


I sent the below email to both the NYT and the Baltimore Sun,

Dear Sir or Madam,

The early publication of Michiko Kakutani’s review of ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ provides a sad example of the state of American journalism. When a formally respected newspaper like the New York Times stoops to publishing articles that the notoriously uninhibited British press restrain themselves from publishing I can only conclude that the paper is no longer worth reading. I wish that I was a subscriber so that I had the pleasure of canceling my subscription, since I am not I will simply refrain from reading anything published in your online offering.

I hope that an apology is forthcoming to all the children of America and the world.

Serious consideration should be given to the dismissal of Michiko Kakutani, Rick Lyman, and anyone else at the Times that participated in this decision.

Not as Respectfully as before,


The Times sent me this link.

I consider Mr. Hoyt comments above as yet more evidence that the Times does not get it. In an age when newspapers are struggleing for marketshare against the internet news sources the NYT has managed to alienate a substantial number of online veiwers. The comments by Mr. Hoyt confirm to me my evaluation that the NYT is no longer worth reading. I can not consider it a source of trustworthy news if it can not be trusted with our (and their) children’s dreams. A long, long way from the New York Sun’s “Yes Virginia…”


What a disappointment to see that the NYT has stooped to the scoff-worthy level of prematurely publishing Katutani’s tasteless review to garner attention ahead of other book reviewers. After reading the review, I was reminded of another NYT article lamenting the early release of movie reviews, as film magazines and newspapers calculatingly publish their articles on Spiderman, Die Hard, and of course - the fifth Harry Potter movie - well in advance of the movies’ release dates. From that July 4th article, “…The News and The Post are blatant examples of the explosion of the old gentlemen’s agreement by which the Hollywood studios screened movies early for critics, and the critics held their reviews until opening day.”

Now, the New York Times should be included along with The Daily News and The Post as not just a blatant but also a singular, shameful example of a newspaper exploding the muggles’ agreement by which we respect both Rowling’s and her readers’ desire to let Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows unfold its mysteries as we read it. NOT as we read some second-rate review by a critic whose Wikipedia entry is only as long as it is due to the stink she’s caused over her most recent appalling contribution to the NYTimes.

I actually took it upon myself to complete the painful task - more painful than Harry’s cheerful task of defeating Voldemort, I’d wager - of reading Katutani’s two other equally bad reviews of the previous Harry Potter books. Is Katutani incapable of writing a thoughtful and incisive book review without a self-indulgent, gleeful rambling of the book’s main plot points? Is she unable to come up with a tasteful and clever way to reveal her own musings on the book without spoiling it for the rest of us? All of her reviews sound like uninspired, elementary school book reports, as she plods her way through “and then this happens”, “and then that happens”, “oh, did i mention? this happens back there too”.

And Mr. Lyman, defending this travesty? Have you not been reading your OWN newspaper’s articles about the hype and secrecy surrounding the series, and how many fans would prefer to keep it a secret until 12:01am, July 21st? This isn’t just any book, this isn’t just any book release – this is the conclusion of ten years of imagination, mystery, and simply put – pure fun! And you’ve had a hand in trying to ruin it.

I also see that both Mr. Lyman and Mr. Hoyt have taken care to emphasize that Katutani’s review was highly positive and “praised the HP series”. Puh-lease! J. K. Rowling – and all of us HP fans – don’t need someone else to praise this book. We certainly don’t need a writer like Katutani to stamp it approved! We know the series, we know Rowling’s work, and we love it all. And because we do, we want to get it straight from the source – this Saturday!

Oh, and lastly – Ms. Katutani, please try reading your old reviews and making your later ones just a little different and, say, original? I am shocked that NYT editors find it acceptable that you mooch off your own old, crappy articles to write your new, crappier articles, but not all of us are fooled. So please take your BA in English and your Pulitzer-Prize money and go buy yourself a thesaurus:

from Katutani’s review of Order of the Phoenix: “This Harry Potter is less Prince Hal than a budding Henry V; less the callow boy in ‘’The Sword in the Stone'’ and more of the young King Arthur.”

from her review of Half-Blood Prince: “It is a novel that pulls together dozens of plot strands from previous volumes, underscoring how cleverly and carefully J. K. Rowling has assembled this giant jigsaw puzzle of an epic.”

from the latest review that has sparked my utter disdain for Katutani and the paper that sponsors her: “…and in this volume he is clearly more Henry V than Prince Hal, more King Arthur than young Wart…” - “…Ms. Rowling has fitted together the jigsaw-puzzle pieces of this long undertaking with Dickensian ingenuity and ardor”

We get it, Katutani! Harry has matured - clearly, your writing hasn’t. J. K. Rowling is a master of plot twists and suspension, a thorough thinker and an excellent writer - clearly, you are neither.

— Posted by interested reader


Hem, Hem,
Dear Death Eaters at the NY Times:
Your paper and the author of the book review deserve to be sued. Representatives clearly need to be arrested and thrown in Azkaban and tortured into a state worse than death by Dementors. Or better yet, a Cruciatus Curse should be placed upon all of those involved in the publishing of this review until you’ve come to your senses and apologized.
What was the point? Influenced by the Malfoys? Were you sniggering in your offices at the thought of gettting a scoop? You should be ashamed of yourselves.
I agree with P. Mihalick. Apologize. You were wrong. Voldemort must be your new editor.

— Posted by Dolores Umbridge

...and 300+ more, so far, with not many going the opposite way.

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