Following the lead of almost every other newspaper in the country, The New York Times will, starting tomorrow, enable readers to email staff writers by clicking on bylines.
The memo by executive editor Bill Keller (leaked to Romenesko, of course) says the paper will give a sloppy wet Valentine’s kiss to its readers who were too confused (or lazy) to dig through the paper’s website to learn that you had to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com to get a partial listing of reporters who felt like sharing their info.
Keller suggests that the only reason this function took so long is because the Times “struggled for a while with the question of how to invite more readers to communicate with our reporters without inviting tons of junk mail or spam.” But that’s a lofty explanation that neatly circumlocutes what Fishbowl suspects to be the truth (and we don’t think we’re alone in this): Some Times staffers didn’t want to be bothered with hearing from their petty readers, and the paper’s leadership didn’t deem the issue important enough to make it happen any sooner.
Of course, under the new system, you still won’t know the reporters’ actual email addresses. Whatever you email will be forwarded to the staffers’ account. So don’t throw out your master list just yet.