We’ve been feasting heavily on the Monday business section of the New York
Times, with its new experimental layout and relentless coverage of the
“information industries.” Being informed and industrious ourselves, we’ve
taken to telling people casually that the Monday Times is far superior to
the bloated, pulp-fest of the Sunday edition, now that the gray lady has
devoted an entire section to the high-tech world. But in the spirit of
biting the hand that feeds, we’d like to register our dismay at the
typographic catastrophe that graced last Monday’s Business Day.

First a little background. The usually constrained graphic designers at the
Times have been tinkering with different mastheads for the past two months,
ever since the new, cyberized version of the business section hit the
presses. One week featured a modestly pixelated rendition of the “Business
Day” header, while another edition sported one of those ubiquitous @ signs
at the top of the page. This Monday, however, the Windows 95 hoopla clearly
overwhelmed the Times design team. As a nod to the extensive Microsoft
coverage contained within, the masthead replaced the “d” in “Business Day”
with the Win95 logo.

We’re resigned to the inevitability of product placement in Hollywood films
(“The Net,” for instance, looks to be a two-hour Macintosh ad), but seeing
commercial products pitched from a New York Times banner really rubs us the
wrong way. After all, this is a paper notorious for its stodgy formalities:
it once studiously referred to the singer Meat Loaf as “Mr. Loaf”
throughout a concert review. Sure, it makes sense to devote an entire
section to Win95 and its ramifications; it’s a big story, with major
trickle-down effects for the industry as a whole. And we’re happy to see
the Times loosen things up aesthetically. But inserting a corporate logo
into a masthead is another matter altogether. The line between the
high-tech press and the corporations it covers is already thin enough, and
a product with $150 million of marketing muscle behind it doesn’t need any
free advertising. Perhaps this is only the first glimpse of a larger, more
ambitious redesign at The Times, and we’ll soon see the Nike swoop propped
up alongside the gothic letterforms on the front page. What’s that motto
again? All the news that’s fit to plug?

— S.J. (August 1995)

Click here to post your responses in our Feedbag discussion area.