This is an article from the fall 2017 issue of LSA Magazine. Read more stories from the magazine.
It is the summer of 2017 and Rebecca Blumenstein, a deputy managing editor of the New York Times, is wondering what is going to happen next. “Everything is changing,” she says, ”from trade policy to taxes to healthcare to social safety nets to relationships with almost every country in the world. Companies’ relationships with the government are changing, and the very notion of whether GM should even have plants in Mexico is being challenged. Retail is falling apart because Amazon is so successful. It’s just a giant story and I feel, like many others, supercharged by it.
“And if you’re a political reporter now,” she adds, “it’s just an endurance test. Rarely has one seen such an intense news cycle last for so long. We are following bigger stories than we’ve seen in many, many years.”
Blumenstein speaks from experience. After four years at the Michigan Daily, including one in which she was editor-in-chief, Blumenstein began her career as a political reporter covering county government at the Tampa Tribune. An economics major in the Residential College, she moved on to Gannett Newspapers and Newsday before joining the Detroit bureau of the Wall Street Journal to cover General Motors. She stayed with the Journal for more than 20 years, covering technology and telecommunications before becoming the paper’s China Bureau Chief. She continued to climb the ranks until she became the Journal’s deputy editor-in-chief, a position she held until this year when she joined the New York Times.
To manage the steady onslaught of news, consumers are increasingly returning to an old reliable guide: the front page of the daily paper. Digital or physical, the front page curates and organizes the superabundance of stories, and they’re stories people want to read. In the first quarter of 2017, the Times added 300,000 new subscribers. The Columbia Journalism Review and the Wall Street Journal have seen upticks in their paid support, too. “It crystallizes our job,” Blumenstein says, “simply do journalism that’s good enough that you’re willing to pay for it.”