paper trail

New York Times launches new blog; the fine print of Amtrak's residency program

Andrew Solomon

John Cook is leaving his post as editor of chief of Gawker to head The Intercept, a digital magazine founded by eBay guru Pierre Omidyar. Omidyar’s First Look Media company has scooped up a number of high-profile journalists lately, including Matt Taibbi, Glenn Greenwald, and Laura Poitras.

The New York Times is launching a new blog, The Upshot, to replace Nate Silver’s popular Times site of stats-based political reporting. The Upshot will have about 15 journalists, with an aim of, “Trying to help readers get to the essence of issues and understand them in a contextual and conversational way . . . Obviously, we will be using data a lot to do that, not because data is some secret code, but because it’s a particularly effective way, when used in moderate doses, of explaining reality to people,” according to the site’s managing editor, David Leonhardt.

In the New Yorker, Andrew Solomon talks to Peter Lanza, the father of the Sandy Hook elementary school gunman, Adam Lanza, who killed twenty-six people at the school, his mother, and himself. Solomon has explored this territory before: In his award-winning Far from the Tree, he interviewed the parents of school shooters such as Dylan Klebold.

Copyediting pop culture.

Jennifer Schuessler revisits the scandal that erupted when it was discovered that literary critic Paul de Man had, as a young man living in Nazi-occupied Belgium, written some 200 articles for a collaborationist newspaper.

Amtrak’s so-called “residency program,” which provides authors with a free train ticket so they can get some work done, is perhaps not as great as it sounds, if you look at the terms and conditions. As novelist James Hannaham quipped: “Seems like it would be cheaper in the long run to buy a ticket and hold onto your artistic freedom.”