Howlers at the New York Times

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The Times did a fine job again today demonstrating its irrelevance in the coverage of social and cultural matters.

Fred Conrad covered the Ladies of the Red Hat Society, with photographs and voice on tape, in the production of a little document that should deeply embarrass his venerable institution. It is, among other things, journalism that contradicts the facts of the matter.

Here’s what Fred “discovered” about the Society. “It’s a huge organization of women over the age of 50. It’s dedicated to one thing: to having fun.”

Actually, the Society takes it’s name from a poem by Jenny Joseph called Warning. The first two lines of this poem read:

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go and doesn’t suit me.

The poem is a refusal of the dismissive notions that compete to define women of age. Happily, all this escapes poor Fred who covers his eyes and just takes a stab at it. “Girls just want to have fun, Gene?” I don’t have anything against journalism that moves away from who-what-when-where-why reporting. But this is embarrassing.


Conrad, Fred. 2005. The Ladies of the Red Hat Society. The New York Times. June 8, 2005. on line