The NY Times’s Public Editor reports that the Times is reconsidering its recent abandonment of the Sunday "Arts & Leisure Guide," otherwise known as the "listings," in response to thousands of letters protesting the change. The listings were several pages of small-type descriptions of hundreds of cultural events in and around New York. They appeared in the Arts & Leisure section of the Sunday NY Times every week for many years, and it was the only way smaller organizations and events could appear in the Times (ad space is of course prohibitively expensive).
This is very good news on the merits. For the Times to decide (via its new "selective" listings) which cultural events are worthy of mention, rather than tell its readers what’s out there and let them decide, reeks of (in the Public Editor’s words) "journalistic arrogance." The Public Editor reports that the ultimate form the listings will take is still under discussion, but one can certainly hope that they will allow readers to make their own judgments.
This turn of events is also very good news in terms of process. Apparently, most if not all of the signatures protesting the departure of the listings were gathered on the internet, probably at www.savethelistings.com. And so it appears that a campaign that relied heavily on forwarded emails (I received several emails from different people urging me to visit the site and sign the petition) has made a real difference at the highest levels of the mighty New York Times.
So keep blogging, keep emailing, and keep signing those petitions! In at least one case, it has actually worked.