NY Times stereotypes Greenwich (2005)

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Below is a letter I submitted to the editor of the New York Times, but which they decided not to publish.

Stacey Stowe’s article “A Name Change to Protect the Innocent” (New York Times, October 21, 2005) begins by referring to residents of a certain street in the Cos Cob section of Greenwich, Connecticut as “people of the L. L. Bean-wearing, exercise-the-dog sort” and later refers to Greenwich as “a town where Lacoste shirts and country club memberships are a virtual birthright.”  Using such phrases to describe Greenwich must be in the New York Times style guide.     A Nexis search reveals that just in the last five years  — searching beyond five years produced too many hits for Nexis to display — the New York Times published 771 articles referencing Greenwich, Connecticut and 660 of them used the words “wealthy”  “rich” “tony” etc. and the vast majority of those 111 that did not use such adjectives were paid death notices.

Sure there is wealth in Greenwich, as there is in much of the suburbs, but unlike many neighboring communities there is a vibrant middle and working class population in Greenwich.  Beyond that, Greenwich is more diverse than many neighboring communities.  One would never know it from reading the Times, but a simple check of demographic statistics would reveal that Greenwich’s minority population is 14.5% — more than double or triple that of New Canaan, Darien, Ridgefield or Westport, for example.

By painting Greenwich as an exclusive bastion of only the rich and famous, the New York Times is either demonstrating its ignorance of the true character of a segment of its readership, or its intentionally stereotyping.  Either case is beneath the dignity of the paper.

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