We Try to Avoid Superlatives, but Our Readers Really Are the Best

We have started a new experiment aimed at including our readers more directly in the journalistic process.

Comments: 110

  1. Most homeless people are not mentally ill but normal people who simply can't afford to rent apartments. While we have the worst homeless problem in decades, we continue to flood the country with legal and illegal immigrants who drive down wages and force up housing costs. We need to reduce legal immigration and enforce our immigration laws against those here illegally. It is simple economics of supply and demand if you actually care about your fellow homeless Americans. Unfortunately, many of us care more about foreigners seeking to come to America. This is zero sum. Do you care more about them or us?

  2. @Michael Green This is actually a false dichotomy. Research and findings show that immigration supports a positive market. I appreciate your opinion, but I recommend taking an extensive look into human migration and rights. An insightful book on it is "Can we solve the migration crisis?" by Jacqueline Bhabha, who, among many other things, is a professor at Harvard. There are also many (free) research articles online that review this issue and refute such damaging misconceptions regarding immigration.

  3. @Michael Green Domestics, farm workers, meat packers, hospitality, construction. That's the work immigrants do, and even Trump properties are guilty. The people who become homeless, and I say 'become homeless' because many were doing just fine in life before their setbacks--maybe drugs, maybe being a victim of downsizing, maybe becoming unable to make rent, maybe bankruptcy after the housing crisis--these people are not going to be doing the manual labor that poor immigrants are willing to do for little money. Now, if you say 'supply and demand' will raise the wages--you are mistaken about the result. If it becomes too expensive to farm or process meat here, then we will import instead. We are not the only developed economy on this planet. And, if if becomes too expensive to build houses, no one will buy them. On the other hand, if our homeless work as domestics, farm workers, etc. for the same wages as our low-paid immigrants do, they certainly will not be able to afford the rent. We will bifurcate further into a society of billionaires and serfs. Then there is mechanization. I saw an 8 foot tall robot rolling up and down the aisles at a local supermarket. It was taking inventory, and would soon be placing orders via WiFi. Those every-day jobs will never come back. We need to be more intelligent about immigration and employment than just applying some simplistic zero-sum label to it.

  4. @Michael Green Not to pile on, but the idea that poor people are driving up housing costs flies in the face of every principle of economics. Wealth drives up costs, not poverty.

  5. Let me preface this by saying that I appreciate the Times, and am not someone who is apt to threaten to drop my subscription when I see coverage that I feel to be misguided or negligent. That being said, I'm incredibly frustrated by the fact that this piece throws intellectual superlatives at us and then pats itself on the back for offering us a voice via...receiving a newsletter about California? What the Times needs is to revive the position of public editor. So many of us have been asking this for years now; I see this sentiment in top-rated comments on a weekly basis. Any effort on the Times part to superficially involve readers in the journalistic process or offer us 20 new newsletters is frivolous in the face of a gaping hole where a public editor should be is just that...frivolous. As a reader, I don't need superlatives or more newsletters or an invitation to "submit a question to reporters." I need confidence in structures of journalistic and ethical accountability within the organizations from which I get the news. Now more than ever, any organization with the scale and visibility of the Times should *want* to send a message to readers that it takes self-critique seriously. It's good journalism, savvy business, and essential to maintaining the public's faith in the fourth estate.

  6. @Kate Koza Well said. I, however, as a reader, appreciate the invitation to submit a question. I don't find this piece or their endeavor to be superficial. I think the NYT truly wants to hear from readers because it brings a personal and different perspective to the table, which encourages ethical accountability in the field, not hinders it.

  7. @Abigail Corey, well said. However, Kate Koza has a point. I am from Brazil and I think we - the foreign readers - could impart more on the analysis of our own countries or regions. The USA is not only California or New York and the world is not only the USA. Nevertheless, I appreciate the coverage of Australia and New Zealand very much - I lived in Australia for one year in 2016-2017 and the Times coverage help heals the missing feeling.

  8. I live close enough to California that all I hear about is California. California transplants are ruining the Vegas market and making housing as unaffordable here as it is in California. I don't want to hear about the homeless problem in California, because I'm about to experience it in Las Vegas due to California.

  9. From today's physics.org: In the United States, annual average levels of fine particulate matter—PM2.5, a measure of solid particles and liquid droplets that are 2.5 micrometers or smaller found in the air—declined 24 percent from 2009 to 2016, then increased 5 percent between 2016 to 2018. They found that the increase was associated with 9,700 additional premature deaths, and that these deaths represent damages of $89 billion. Cause: Decreases in enforcement of the Clean Air Act: Enforcement of this law may influence compliance by firms, and the study found that the most frequent type of enforcement of the Clean Air Act fell from 2009 to 2016 and continued to fall from 2016 to 2018. Trump really is making America "grate" again. cough cough wheeze wheeze by reducing the surplus population. I wonder how many are deniers?

  10. You bet. And you don't have to pay them, either - unlike those needy reporters who studied journalish and hew to a professional code.

  11. @Rufus Firefly Needy? Perhaps you are joking? If not, please consider what kind of world we would be living in if well educated and trained reporters didn't exist. My father was a reporter who became an editor and I still have many journalist friends. The majority of them are bright enough to have made much better incomes in other fields. Most are on call 24/7 and even if not officially on the clock are continually on the alert for relevant news. Journalism is not just a job. It is a life-long calling. I have far more respect for the Times' reporters than I do for most of our elected officials. I also welcome the request for suggested stories, and have wished for such a feature. Still, readers can contribute to the journalistic process, but we will rarely substitute for someone trained to be objective, ask the right questions, develop sources, and write well on deadline.

  12. Challenge accepted.

  13. This is so excellent! Thank you for doing this. I think it will have a positive effect in fostering community among readers as well as locally.

  14. They really are!!!

  15. This looks like a nice journalistic innovation—both in substance and especially process. I hope it is real. If you’re looking for ideas, I’ve sent many over the years: do much more on sustainability (which you’ve only recently begun to do); you have this recurrent thing that the more people in a country, the better. Commenters keep telling you the Earth can’t take it, but you continue; too many of your name columnists are predictable; too many generalizations about older, white men in ways you’d never tolerate about any other demo; rarely, the story doesn’t make sense or its title is misleading; and, while this innovation may prove different, you’ve been too in-the-box, missing things not (yet) in the mainstream, some happening close to you. Not crazy about all the light stuff, but maybe that’s what you have to do to be competitive and to support the good stuff. Among the many positive sides, I did just get a very rare response to a comment on an article by the journalist who wrote it; Farhad Manjoo is innovating, also both in substance and process; there’s an increasing range of opinion columnists; and your climate change coverage is much improved. I don’t know whether the title: “…Readers Really Are the Best,” is meant just to be whimsical, but, if not, remember evidence is necessary to support claims, and think yellow flag when accepting something as true when it is something you want to believe. This one could really be good. Check back with us to make sure it's working.

  16. And please don't forget that there are many loyal (and yes, probably bright, erudite, compassionate and thoughtful) readers who don't happen to live on either the east or west coasts but instead live somewhere in the middle of the country! I'd of course never suggest that the Times or Times readers would suggest that we're in the "fly-over" area, as less astute publications and folks might, but occasionally one does get the feeling that we're perhaps a bit of an afterthought.

  17. Agreed. (I am a lifelong New Yorker.)

  18. I did indeed find it very frustrating that the only options given to submit a question were if one had a question specifically related to either California or New York City (not even the greater metro area, just the 5 boroughs!!). I don’t happen to live in what’s called “flyover country”, I’m on the East Coast, but not in the 5 boroughs. And I’m apparently not supposed to ask questions either—or only very narrow ones! Maybe the editors were worried about getting inundated with questions, & that’s why they’re limiting this, but in an initiative that’s supposed to be all about *including* readers, it does feel a bit frustrating to be excluded in this way...

  19. @Paulette Johnston ditto. We, in the fly over country are in need of validation. Our local news are depressing, and our concerns unanswered. And we too have ideas.

  20. Don't forget about New Jersey!

  21. Fantastic initiative to invite your readers to "assign stories" in this way. This unleashes the rich knowledge and curiosity that your readers can bring as we co-construct this learning journey together.

  22. The New York Times should interview some of the independent journalists, like those involved in the “Battle of Seattle.” On Democracy Now, Amy Goodman reported that Twenty years ago this week, tens of thousands of activists converged in Seattle to protest a meeting of the World Trade Organization. Grassroots organizers successfully blocked world leaders, government trade ministers and corporate executives from meeting to sign a global trade deal that many called deeply undemocratic, harmful to workers’ rights, the environment and Indigenous people. Activists formed a human chain around the Seattle convention center and shut down the city’s downtown. Police responded by firing tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd. The protests went on for five days and resulted in 600 arrests and in the eventual collapse of the talks, as well as the resignation of Seattle’s police chief. The protests were documented in the film “This is What Democracy Looks Like.”

  23. @Martha Why not just hire some independent journalists instead? The lack of diversity in perspectives and economic class is evident in their permanent staff. Instead, they ask readers to make up for that lack of diversity. Why? Not only are readers expected to pay for the paper, they're now asked to help construct it (for free!), to make up for their deliberate blind spots? That's some Trumpian arrogance. No wonder they're obsessed with his every fart.

  24. My personal suggestion: with all the debate about healthcare, how about asking us Americans who live overseas and have experience in both the US and foreign healthcare systems what we think? I'm really tired of reading comments from both sides of the aisle that are not grounded in any experience. Come to New Zealand, go to France, the UK, Australia, Japan, Korea...even Cuba, and find out what life is actually like on the ground. How is it paid for? What services are offered? Are their waitlists? Is it single payer or a hybrid public/private? The number one reason I will likely retire and die in New Zealand is because of healthcare. We simply cannot afford to return. An estimated 9 million Americans live abroad. Surely you could find a few of us.

  25. @Bill I lived in Wellington for a year. I was struck by the number of locals who were hobbling around with foot injuries because that didn't seem to be a priority the the health service.

  26. @Amy Our health care system is getting some "tender loving care" [ ie increased funding ] after ejecting the miserable, two-faced, penny-pinching Conservatives at the last election. Don't forget there are also some rather worn out sports crazy Kiwi's out there.

  27. At least California is in America. On any given day, when some political or other news of great importance to New Yorkers and/or Americans will dominate every other news outlet's home pages, the Times's top story, as often as not, will be about India or China or something not uppermost in our minds. Sure, those things are important, and we're not so insular as to ignore the rest of the world, but your news judgment and priorities can cause some head-scratching.

  28. Couldn’t agree more—of course I’m a subscriber. One aspect of the Times experience I really appreciate is the quality of reader comments. So many online comments sections are like cage matches. More yelling than talking. This experience extends to the cooking app, which as become my go-to for recipes—as much for the helpfulness of the reader comments as anything else. Look forward to the results of this initiative.

  29. @Paul, yes indeed! I love seeing my carefully composed, sometimes well thought out, letters appear here in the New York Times. But I must confess that I love even more seeing my occasionally moronic blasts appear in the dear Amazon Washington Post, where I can let 'er rip!

  30. @Paul Yes, I too love the reader comments in the Times. And your comment, Paul, the one I'm replying to right now, is perfect example of how great they are! Fascinating to learn how comments to the recipe app. have enhanced your cooking experience. How great is that!

  31. What a terrific idea. A couple of years ago I sent a message to one of your opinion writers, Bari Weiss, and suggested she write an article about the Intellectual Dark Web. I also included the names of the people she should interview. A few months later, I was thrilled and astonished when it became a widely discussed front page article. And I'm just your most ordinary reader.

  32. I agree that NYT readers are exceptional. I read two local papers in addition to NYT and I often read the comments that readers post to those publications. Comments on NYT are consistently superior in every regard. They are thoughtful and often informative. Experts step forward and add important new information to many articles. In contrast, comments on the publications in the San Francisco Bay Area are rarely worth reading and often toxic displays of extreme partisanship. Thanks to NYT for digging into homeless issues in California. In Oakland, where I live, my local park is no longer a park. It is covered in hundreds of tents. The neighbors seem to be taking it in stride because we are generous bunch of folks here. We are not a community that resists development. On the contrary. In the same neighborhood where a tent city has replaced a public park, huge high-rise apartment buildings have been erected and many more are under construction.

  33. @Yellow Dog -- YES. I'm delighted anytime an NYT writer joins in the commentariat fracas. Always Welcome!

  34. NYT...Thank you for doing this. This is a request to do an informative article on Ranked Choice Voting. With the enormous difficulty in getting rid of the Electoral College, I believe that Ranked Choice Voting might be the answer. Many communities and some states already successfully use it. It will be on the ballot soon in Massachusetts after a successful initiative petition. Over 85 legislators have signed on. But it is somewhat complicated and needs clear explanation.

  35. This is indeed a commendable and welcome initiative. Here's my two cents: I'd like to see more balance (i.e., more dissenting views and analysis, e.g., from Trumpians), more diversity of religious perspective, more international coverage by non-U.S. reporters, less light, frothy, self-absorbed navel-gazing.

  36. @Peter I guess Peter, I think the Times is pretty fair and balanced, and as far as Trumpians are concerned, whenever they start to use facts as a basis for their assertions instead of making things up, or lying about reality, or parroting Fox fantasy news, then I will pay them some heed. I enjoy reading the conservative columnists at the times because they have valid points and discuss opinions based on fact, not fantasy.

  37. But what happens when readers have facts, reasoning, and perspectives that are ideologically unacceptable at the nytimes? Will they be ignored, as the articles and opinion pieces at nytimes now ignore the ideologically incorrect?

  38. NYT, what I would really like to see is a stop to false equivalency reporting. Also, a table of the Dem 2020 candidates that compares their resumes, would be really nice. "Huffpost searched mentions in U.S. publications for 2019, finding that news outlets cited Buttigieg’s Rhodes scholarship 596 times. Booker had just 79 mentions." Let's start giving a full and fair picture.

  39. @catee Is Booker still in the race? What were the mentions for both candidates before he dropped out? I have to admit I think he dropped out but I don’t know for sure because I am disgusted with the country and politics and am actively seeking another country where I can stick my head in the sand and be ignorant and happy.

  40. Another lame millennial trick? Who’d want to hear tech dweeb drivel or a make America great” Trump supporting liberal in sheep clothing? If the Times isn’t speaking from on-high Columbia-Journalist-School there is no Times. Give me “fake news” or give me vegan no salt portobello mushroom turkey gravy! I refuse to hear this argument! How about a silly Thanksgiving story?

  41. You want us to work for you AND you hike our subscription price! That's socialism!

  42. “… Oldest farm in the country”. Are you really really sure you want to hear from someone like me?

  43. I've been reading The Times for over 50 years and now am tired of being conned by your continued use of the name The "New York" Times. You haven't published a serious comprehensive New York City news-section in years. I miss the era of Abe J. Rosenthal, when he was editor and paid attention to the city. So I now have to pay to subscribe to what remains of the New York Daily News to get coverage of the latest crime spree. The News, does more with a staff of perhaps less than 40 reporters than you do with over 30 times as many. Gothamist and (gulp) The Wall Street Journal usually due a better job. I realize you're a national daily now, but why have you forsaken the city of your birth?

  44. "The Times is blessed with the very finest readers of any publication. They are the brightest and most erudite. They are the most compassionate and thoughtful readers around. Challenge that!" Okay: ALL superlatives are "fraught terms," perhaps none more so than those attempting to flatter. None of the superlatives in this passage are proven or even provable. Instead, they are stylistic red flags that render the author's message absurd: Readers who really are bright, erudite, and thoughtful would recognize the dishonestly immediately. Moreover, the superlatives contribute nothing (beyond complication) to the author's argument, which would be better served stylistically (and factually) by an honest rewrite sans superlatives, e.g., "The Times is blessed with fine readers who are bright, erudite, compassionate, and thoughtful." I'm just sayin'.

  45. Please be more transparent! Please explain how NYTimes Picks are selected. Please publish statistics about how many comments are rejected and clearer explanations about the reasons for those rejections.

  46. @Amy: Clearer explanations for comment rejection? You mean *any* explanation for comment rejection. At the moment there's not even an automated notification that your comment has been rejected, let alone a reason provided. This makes you (a), save a copy of your comment before sending it, so you can edit rather than re-compose, and (b), put less effort in to the comment, because your time can easily be wasted for an opaque reason.

  47. Sorry, but this is a terrible idea; journalism should not be driven by the ideas of non-journalists, for a host of reasons. Publications, like almost every public endeavor, are already subject to the tyranny of the comments section, and that's bad enough. Don't demean yourselves by flattering readers; that's not your job. Let's keep readers' ideas in the comments section where they belong, and prove you actually care about readers by, oh, I don't know, maybe give us a real Public Editor again? That at least is an honorable way to interface with your readers.

  48. Perhaps the NY Times can come up with some kind of group discount rate for the members of any city council.

  49. Here's my suggestion: more reporting on New York City and State events and government. Less on the White House.

  50. @Gordon Wiggerhaus, I think the Times used to cover more local news, for the local reader . . . unfortunately, with all the budget cuts newspapers have had to go through, local stuff has fallen off and has been ceded to the Post and the Daily News (we don't even have the Village Voice anymore, which was amazing for local news). I also remember a few years ago, the Times actually announced in the paper that it would be focusing less on local matters . . . perhaps because its readership has expanded so much nationally (hello reader from Washington State!!!)

  51. "We regularly receive evidence of just how exceptional you are. You praise our most ambitious work. You critique us when we mess things up. ... Story ideas are typically hatched in conversations between reporters and editors. We toss around ideas and launch inquiries into this or that. " Well well! Yes, we certainly do, in these comments areas! BUT ... you never listen. I'm a Harvard man (albeit a PhD. one) and its said that "You can always tell [us] but you can't make one listen". You are like that. You will ALWAYS come up with the topics you always harp on, which translates to "very far left wing". You are uninterested in freedom (as e.g. the freedom of bakers to not decorate cakes for people they disapprove of). You are uninterested in jawboning Blacks, trying to get them to stop committing crimes. You are uninterested in ways to stop illegal immigration. You are very interested in demeaning White people and Christians. You are interested in trying to destroy our country's long cherished culture (like Thanksgiving, see the editorials of today, many of which are in fact actual lies.) You should listen to all of your readers.

  52. Clearly a Harvard eduction isn't what it's cracked up to be.

  53. @Doug McDonald Don't agree - you're in the minority view. The paper is a business. Using your own logic, why should the paper listen to ALL its readers when you're saying a baker can have the freedom to not serve people they don't want to serve? You're a tiny minority of readers and read what people are saying below - they're saying people like you are already given too much consideration. Isn't what's good for the goose good for the gander? Hmm??

  54. Sounds like somebody needs a hug.

  55. Well, good. I have not found the NYTimes to be responsive to reader concerns at all- at least not the concerns of this reader. Maybe things will change. I hope so. As the pre-eminent newspaper in the English language, it would be nice if the Times were more responsive to its constituency.

  56. I don’t want tp be part of the “journalistic process”, any more than I want to be part of the “food-making” process when I go to a restaurant. I want the Times to be well-written, well-edited, and well-resourced to do deep reporting and long investigative research. And to stop producing story after story about old white people in a diner in Pennsylvania.

  57. Sorry, but "Inequality in California" sounds like same-old-same-old to me. The feeling is that I already know the parameters and the outcome of this type of journalism. It has to do with the embedded, data-driven assumptions you are starting with, and the uber-coastal Greek chorus that expects as much. Inequality? Round up the usual suspects: Racism (white only); Sexism (male only); Corporate greed (old white guys only); Immigration (let them in, old white males, or else we're all racist); Climate Change (all of the above); Trump (ditto). I would like to see the New York Times take the initiative to challenge its own certainties when it undertakes to challenge the given order. We need this. Try giving power to other perspectives--like people that my fellow subscribers may not already feel sorry for. This would forge a much-needed third way in journalism.

  58. @Allen I think a lot of that happens. One thing most of the coastal elites do is care about everyone, even the people in red states who don't want their help. Heck, I even feel sorry for Trump a lot of the time given how much he's made fun of. Everyone is a hypocrite but some less so than others.

  59. General advice to the NYTimes: Begin each piece with a paragraph that gets to the point, and only then elaborate. Make sure the headline corresponds to the reporting -- don't sacrifice accuracy for a cute turn of phrase. For long investigative pieces, try using footnotes instead of trying to pack everything in the narrative. That way the story is clear and you don't get lost in some details, and yet the evidence and details are there. Occasionally have a retrospective piece that follows up on an earlier story -- whether it needed correction, what happened as a consequence of what transpired and what effect the story had.

  60. On point one, I agree. NYT does fall prey to juicy headlines which don’t comport to the article. NYT falls into the habit of writing three soft paragraphs of background before getting to the news at hand. On point two, NYT uses hyperlinks in the stories to allow readers to veer off and get more information and related or prior context. NYT leaves links to its previous articles on the same subject or persons at the end of the article. On point three I have seen plenty of follow through on articles as the matter unfolds or has an epilogue. However, NYT does not make it a feature of its business all the time.

  61. Being able to read the comments from fellow readers in a timely way reinforces the Times' desire to get readers involved. But too often in the past year, I get a message that "technical problems at the Times" prevent me from reading until a later time.

  62. As a midwesterner it would be nice if the Times would do more than interview the same few “swing” voters. There are a ton of progressive voters here, and giving some attention to us would be appreciated. A good start would be a dive into why so many midwestern states went for Bernie in the primaries in 2016, only to be lost in the general election by Hillary. I have gotten pretty tired of the “we need a centrist to win” narrative, with all the actual evidence being contrary to that.

  63. Well, you could improve by being fair to conservatives, actual conservatives, not Trump worshippers masquerading as conservatives.

  64. When Wikipedia was in it's infancy, I was deeply skeptical about their model for an online encyclopedia that anyone with a computer could log onto and edit. I was happy to be proven wrong; that with a well thought out framework to separate the popular wheat from the chaff they were able to produce an online resource equal or superior to the traditional tomes it emulated. I look forward to seeing how this experiment turns out.

  65. @Will I share your respect for Wikipedia.

  66. I use Wikipedia often. I too began cautiously. I am more trusting nowadays. However, it the topic is controversial or obscure or very new, it warrants more triangulation ( conferring with other sources to build certainty ) and critical thinking to sort out any phony details.

  67. It will be interesting to see how the Times relies on “alternative facts” to explain away the obvious relationship between inequality in California and that state’s punitive tax system, invisible borders, and government-centric approach to all aspects of its citizens’ lives. The People’s Republic of California has been the most thorough experiment of progressivism in American history. Golf claps to the Times for acknowledging the experiment’s colossal failure.

  68. @Charles Of course California has a lot of homeless. It is by far the biggest state with 40 Million people. I lived in Silicon Valley. The inequality is from the big tech salaries. That in turn drives up the housing prices which contributes to homelessness. I made a lot of money when I worked there. I paid very, very high rent and still saved $75,000 in a year and a half. I am single. Think how much money a married couple has.

  69. @Charles CA is a mirror of the whole country. The question is whether it is a rising tide lifting all boats or extending the inequality.

  70. @RamS I agree with RamS, what is happening in California, is happening all over the country just on a larger scale because it is the largest state. The story is not that there is inequality, we already know that there is. The story is exposing what institutions play a role in sustaining that inequality and exposing them and challenging California and other states to do something about it. Families are becoming homeless, because they cannot afford the exorbitant rent that landlords are charging all over the country, but there is no intervention in these states to control the rent escalation that has done away with affordable housing for all. Look into those individuals that are controlling the lack of intervention of local, state and national entities that should be taking action to stop this abominable situation, expose the lack of intervention. I believe there is some type of collusion going on among landlords. They decide the market prices for rental properties with no one looking or taking action that would alleviate the inequity. Therefore, they can rent to whom they like and keep out whom they like.

  71. I’d love it if you improved the commenting system so your experiment can be more accurate. And California is a good topic. Can’t wait to read.

  72. Could we get a little more transparency on Carlos Slim, and his financial stake? Anytime I ask about him my comments don’t seem to get posted. Follow the money is a good motto to live by, and it often explains what news is fit to print.

  73. Exactly same experience. “Something went wrong” appears adding insult to injury.

  74. I love the comments sections in the Times experience and often spend far too much time reading and reacting to them. One question I have that some one may be able to answer is how the Times moderates the comments and approves or disapproves them. It can't involve human comment editors so how does this work? Some kind of highly sophisticated algorithm?

  75. @Rod Sanders I guess because this would mean that many, many thousands of comments would have to be read and evaluated for a yes or no. I wouldn't think the Times could afford that many "comment editors."

  76. I wonder whether the authors moderate their own comments? I agree that this is something that I am curious about. I love reading and often responding to the comments, by the way. It's like joining a discussion group, and one of the main reasons I subscribe. Also, keep on moderating for civility; it's important.

  77. Great idea, getting readers involved like this. I also like very much that editorialists and others are now engaging directly with reader comments on the site. As for the question of California homeless people: I am from Seattle where we also have many homeless people. My understanding (based on numbers) is that folks are homeless here because of, among other things, the high cost of living, mental illness, addiction, and domestic abuse (of women or young people). Also, I travel every year to Europe. One thing I have noticed is a slow but steady increase in the number of people who are appear to be homeless, e.g., in Germany. Now, sometimes, I see almost as many homeless people as I might see in a neighborhood here. My understanding was that social programs in those countries made homelessness virtually nonexistent. Clearly that is now no longer the case. What gives?

  78. Having just come back a few weeks ago from six months in Europe and the UK, I believe that many of the homeless are people who have fled other countries such as Syria. A Kiwi friend, a retired teacher living in London, goes to France to help hand out tents and clothing to the homeless who often are undocumented refugees, many with young children. With wars and the looming climate crisis this is only going to get worse.

  79. I've been a reader of the NYT for over 40 years. Here is a question I would love to see an article about that I don't think has ever been answered clearly. How do you define who is a liberal and who is a conservative - really. So often, people are defined by the things they believe in that are similar to what other people in that group believe in - but that is circular. I'm looking for something more objective. For example, take the red hot subject of abortion. Is it truly a conservative idea, or is it conservative because the taken up the issue because they need the votes of a certain group of individuals and thus they fall in line. If evangelicals suddenly started voting for Bernie Sanders because they liked the way he approaches health care, would the Republicans drop the abortion issue? Break it down. Thanks - keep up the good work.

  80. This is an excellent idea. I am located in the Midwest and am eager to see NY Times journalists cover some of the topics that resonate with readers here. I also enjoy learning about other areas of the country, ones that are not at the epicenter of sophistication and "elitism" such as the Northwest and South. I gravitate towards writers from these areas and believe if we know more about one another politicians will not be able to divide us so easily.

  81. Here's some solutions to the California homeless crisis: 1. Repeal (via legislation or court decision) all the local ordinances that ban various forms of homelessness, including "over-sized vehicle" parking restrictions, sleeping in vehicles, and sleeping outdoors. 2. Build more public housing. 3. Build more public rest rooms and showers. 4. expand food assistance. 5. expand free medical clinics. 6. allow homeless to use public beaches, parking lots, parks, etc. 7. Stop all the restrictions and police harassment currently under way.

  82. As considerate and progressive as what you propose seems and should be welcomed and adopted, it attends more to symptoms than root deficiencies.

  83. @Suburban Cowboy, you are correct . . . NYC has been trying to solve the homeless problem for over 30 years, with little success . . . homeless people usually have problems greater than simply "not having a home" . . . NYC has teams of volunteers who go out nightly to try to convince them to come in for shelter and treatment for mental illness and addiction - not much success there - the term "treatment resistant" has been coined to describe those who refuse any help and insist on staying outdoors . . . the needs of the rest of us have to be considered also - I can't speak to what would work in California, but to "allow homeless to use public beaches, parking lots, and parks" would likely make life very unpleasant for the rest of us . . .

  84. Start with winter hikes in Colorado. Think the Den Post has that one nailed? Hey do it anyway. On serious note - this is a jolly good idea, like immersive theater, its immersive journalism.

  85. Here's a story that no one is doing: how Trump supporters, many of whom are armed, have demonized liberals, and have no interest in trying to understand their point of view. The Times, along with just about every other media outlet in this country, runs repeated stories about how liberals don't understand Trump supporters, pointing to this as the reason why liberals are bound to fail. Even if you agree that liberals don't understand the Trump supporters' anger and frustration (I, think it's a canard), their rage at liberals, who they deem as traitors and socialists, is alarming, yet completely ignored by the media. Doubt that? Try this: do a Web search on "what trump supporters think about liberals" and see what comes up.

  86. I subscribe to both WAPO and NY Tmes. The comments section is very important to me. I like comparing views to my own. The WAPO has a better system in my opinion. They allow posters to post, and don't subject one to a review time, and they have more articles open to comments. From what I see, there is no abuse of the comments system. So, open it up more NYT.

  87. @Bob Disagree completely. NYT reviews allows for thoughtful comments instead of facebook-style, cage-fighting nastiness. Keep it up, NYT, you are so much better than WAPO.

  88. @Bob Ah no. Many many trolls in WaPo, seldom offering substantive comments.

  89. @Bob Please no. The WPO comment sections are filled with misinformation, hate, etc. Those comments, like the comments of many local newspapers, reflect the worst of our society and don't advance the debate. They offer little nuisance. If I wanted uncurated comments, I'd join Facebook and track the comments in my local paper. They NYT, by curating comments, does us all a great service. Curate away! Please.

  90. It isn't a surprise to us that your journalism would improve by including readers. Time after time after time, your readers dissect opinion pieces with much greater insight and critical thinking than the author uses. We often wish you would listen to us, and certainly, had listened four years ago when you ignored and then trashed Bernie - kind of like you are doing again. Include Bernie!

  91. "But here’s an assertion that none of you will challenge: The Times is blessed with the very finest readers of any publication. They are the brightest and most erudite. They are the most compassionate and thoughtful readers around. Challenge that..." Ok. Wait for it - it's coming.

  92. YES! NTY readers are the BEST! I love reading the comments and perspectives of youse smart, caring, and funny people! You all make me a better smarter person, so a big thanks.

  93. In my area of the left coast all the help seems to be Christian centered (refuses to accept help unless they can do a full investigation of the volunteer! Never heard of that before anywhere) and assumes the homeless person must be homeless because they are an addict or mentally ill.I went to the local shelter years ago when I first moved here and no one was at the desk.I rang the bell.I guy stick his head out of an office down the hall saw me then screaming at the top of his lungs "you can't be in here!" as if I had done something very wrong while running at me like he was going to attack me. Then he stopped at the counter and told me to get out. When I explained why I was there he asserted "We don't take volunteers!" It took me a long time after that to figure out that the folks who live around here where I bought my home do not like what I look like. Apparently I look dangerous and criminal to them. So yea

  94. NY Times readers ARE the best . . . but the NY Times is the best newspaper IN THE WORLD! It's the only paper where a restaurant reviewer has gone on to have a regular Op-Ed column (Frank Bruni - he is that smart and that good of a writer). I'm always amazed, when I read another paper (including the Washington Post and other "national" papers), how inferior the writing is compared to Times writing. With your reporting, and the incredible stories that you break, you are the only thing that stands between us and total armageddon (and I'm not exaggerating!) I don't have any suggestions about what I'd like covered, but am a little worried about what that might entail . . . I hope it doesn't lead to something like Facebook's "pick only the stories you want to read" (in other words, "curating" your own news feed) . . . I want (and rely on) the knowledge and experience of Times reporters and editors to decide what stories should be covered - that's what they're good at, and likely much better than I would be at such a task . . . Thank you for all your hard work (you're all so smart and could probably make more money in another field - but please don't!!!). And you are all so incredibly important in this era of journalists being referred to as the "enemy of the people"!!!

  95. I want, nay, demand, a series of deep dives into the shallow minds of Trump supporters. My thirst will only be satisfied by having the full investigative powers of the New York Times (and they are formidable) directed at monosyllabic white people in rural areas who wear tacky clothing emblazoned with eagles snatching the American flag out of the hands of effete French aristocrats. Understand that I want this for the worst possible reasons. I find it humorous to see the finest minds in journalism flown into outer Watchyamacallitt to earnestly ask Trump supporters “Why?”, and get answers so obtuse as to suggest that a Rosetta Stone is missing, or that both the writer and subject are having a stroke. Sound dumb? But you keep doing it anyway. And there’s a part of me that laughs at it. I’m like that. I’m the worst.

  96. Twice suggestions I have entered in the comments section have been acted upon as I perceived it. Once I was tough on a headline that was very incongruous and somewhat gratuitous compared to the body of the article. I spoke up and the header was changed in less than an hour. When a light pattern of stories was emerging on elder care, in particular the travails of the care givers of all stripes and sorts, I mentioned how these pieces had amazing comment section contribution and could be tied together by writers or editors. Lo and behold, such was done by NYT with a curated collection of input from the comment section into an overarching article of comments to the topic. Bravo to all.

  97. Stuck at 91 comments for hours. Good job. I won’t be able to use a superlative for your response time and technological prowess :-)

  98. I think you should start with an apology to Julie Bloom. “...who is one of my deputies...”. Do you own Julie? It sure sounds like you do. How about, “Julie Bloom, a Times deputy editor covering California.” Sounds better, don’t you think? I love the Times. It is The Best! PB

  99. @pbilsky Oh brother.

  100. “Its first loyalty is to citizens: The publisher of journalism – whether a media corporation answering to advertisers and shareholders or a blogger with his own personal beliefs and priorities — must show an ultimate allegiance to citizens. They must strive to put the public interest – and the truth – above their own self-interest or assumptions” says American Press Institute. The new experiment by NYT “Your Lead” aimed at including readers more directly in the journalistic process is a daring new thinking of the venerable publication to assess whether it indeed live up to its promise of loyalty to citizens, undoubtedly a commendable decision. It’s always a pleasure to discuss various issues through the reader’s feedback column offering on-topic commentary, criticism and expertise. Readers and the editorial team end up gaining a great insight of the topic hearing from the heterogeneous cross section of the citizens. A perfect non zero effort indeed.

  101. Don't back down from the Fairness Doctrine.

  102. I think this is relevant, but perhaps it's just me. When I see an article about something I care deeply about that has the famous 'no comment' marker in the top right, I fume. What is the NYT afraid of? My mother died of breast cancer, back when you couldn't politely say the word breast. Two of my sisters have been diagnosed. There was a much-needed article a few days ago about women like me with dense breasts that can't be diagnosed with a mammogram. They - I - need an MRI to spot it early. This is life or death to me. My ACA policy only covers a mammogram. Anything else goes against my $8200 deductible and I just don't have $8200 lying around. Why was that article closed to comments? Why is any article closed to comments?

  103. Yes, it seems that the Times is not allowing more comments about subjects that are of great interest to readers. You folks have been kind enough to publish most of my comments for about a decade now. But then journalism is in my bones. I wrote a weekly column for the Bisbee Observer in Arizona for 18 years. Prior to that I was being published in a number of newspapers after coming off years of speech writing for politicians. And to keep bread and beer on the table i drove buses, planes, cabs, etc. My first effort at writing came when I was 8 years old and was sitting in kindergarten behind an 8-year-old girl who the boys all called Piggy, but then she was a blonde with pigtails. Currently I am living in one of the smallest towns in the world, Naco, AZ, a border town that is home for about 800 souls, so if I can help the NYT with their latest effort, let me know.

  104. As Wikipedia has proven, crowd-sourcing works. As the NYT largely hires journalists for their ability to write, vice any actual expertise in the topics they are assigned, crowd-sourcing would introduce expertise to journalism. Wouldn’t that be something? For example, as a retired Navy officer, I would no longer have to suffer the term “fighter jet”, or the referring to anything with treads as a “tank”, or the inability to distinguish a soldier from a Marine (even though it’s emblazoned in their uniform). I read the NYT daily and I spot factual errors daily. So, by all means, reach out to those that “know”. Wait, you’re not planning on paying them? Nevermind.

  105. The overuse of superlatives has been brought to the fore by His Royal Highest Excellency Donald Trump, who uses them with reckless, wild abandon. He seems unable to complete a sentence, utter a comment, or compose a tweet without resorting to their use, inflating anything and everything out of proper proportion and perspective. Ultimately, the excessive use of superlatives threatens the value of language generally, pardon me, creating the possibility of linguistic inflation beyond all reason, and a world where verbal exchange consists of little more than outsized proclamations that do more to incite than to inform. In an environment that crowds out less histrionic messages, the need to break through the resulting noise raises the stakes considerably. We should all be thankful that the Times seeks to avoid the use of superlatives, but it could already be a lost cause. Will anyone notice, as Chicken Licken used to warn in the childhood story, when the sky really is falling down?

  106. Wealthy companies like Amazon and Uber have gotten around the system by defining their employees as private contractors. This also occurs in the arts. One way many bosses are able to get free labor is hiring un-paid interns.

  107. In as much as The New York Times is the newspaper of record, I would hope that Marc Lacey and the Times' entire editorial team would not so highly prioritize the comments of New York residents above those of us elsewhere in general and in "flyover country" in particular.

  108. Power. We need to understand Power, how it works in social structures. If we don’t understand this, there is no identification of where the human social machinery gets clogged and how to fix it. The human being may be incapable of this kind of insight or discipline. We may go down trying but we must keeping trying. There is a theory that Oklahoma suffered so much during the Dust Bowl that people assumed suffering was reality and turned to religion for solution to all future power inequality, even today, because a whole generation was trained during the Dust Bowl years, in suffering and trained in only seeing religion as a way of some relief. They were right then. The fact the Dust Bowl was man made from bad farming, loosening the top soil is another story. We are beginning to die from this kind of ignorance. Again. This time it’s the planet. Understanding how human “power” works, seeing what turns it to the survival of voters, humans and the planet is paramount now. We cannot fail in this. Well, actually we can. That’s the risk of not understanding so what is fixed, actually fixes. For example: Citizens United and the destruction of The Fairness Doctrine altered the balance of power. Yet we rarely hear this analyzed in the news. This is the real news. The root of the problem. I see the role of the Journalist as the circulatory system for the country. The nutrition brought to the DemocraNation body is public education; food for choice.

  109. You are very smart to take advantage of your readers in this way and at a time when journalism itself requires routine examination. I want you to provide excellent coverage of excellence — tell us the story of the best within us or #ourtopstory — for your economic benefit and ours. You will find it in your own news room and out here in a nation and a world of activity undertaken, in some cases, by people who are very good at what they do and willing to help us understand how and why they do it. From this coverage will emerge an inspiration system if you tell the truth of achievement. You and we will profit from this onscreen adventure.

  110. This is a great idea. The NYT is internationally acclaimed as one of the best of its kind so why not take on a climate change issue and invite your intl readers to connect with the US audience and readership on climate change and it's effects. Thank you for reading and publishing my comments.