September 25, 2012

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof answered readers’ questions on Reddit Monday. Here are some highlights:

• Kristof tries to produce as much copy as he can from his trips abroad: “[G]iven how long it takes to get to the places I go, I need to be sure that if I get there, I can do several different columns from that destination.” And he thinks the appetite for foreign reporting is waning:

The big challenge for foreign reporting is that I think the U.S. is losing interest. For a decade or so after 9/11, the U.S. was quite interested in the world, an aberration in our history of insularity. Now I think we’re reverting the more normal situation where we’re quite inward looking. That also poses huge problems for those of us who care about global poverty.

• He admits he likes making the “most emailed” list. (Here are some tips for doing that.)

But for my part I’m always happy if a column of mine ends up as no. 1 on the emailed list, and disappointed if a column I care about languishes at the bottom of the list.

Yet I think we all realize that we can’t let popularity drive decisions about what we write about. The issues I care most passionately about, from Sudan to sex trafficking, aren’t ever going to do well on the most emailed list, because they’re off the agenda. That’s precisely the reason I’m writing about them, trying to get people to care more about neglected issues.

All that said, I’ve thought about hiring a “click farm” in China to mass- email my columns so that they would rise on the list and get more attention.

• He thinks Backpage’s split from Village Voice Media’s alt-weeklies will hurt the fight against sex trafficking (Kristof has been a critic of the classifieds site):

In the past the fact that Backpage was controlled by Village Voice Media created some leverage, and now I’m afraid there’ll be less leverage to target Backpage to get out of this business (or to require ads to be placed in person). So I don’t see this as a step forward, unfortunately.

• Presented with the option, he’d rather fight one horse-sized duck than 100 duck-sized horses.

Related: A journalists’ quick guide to using RedditNew York Times’ Kristof: To get social issues on the agenda, get them on the op-ed pages | 4 Questions for Nicholas Kristof about technology and the developing world

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Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City…
Andrew Beaujon

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