Global Integration à la New York Times

What does a spelling error tell you about the newspaper’s approach to the global economy?

April 7, 2000

What does a spelling error tell you about the newspaper's approach to the global economy?

Reporters in Washington — especially those working for prestigious newspapers like the New York Times — are generally all-too-eager to offer up a business card and start telling you all about their access to the movers and shakers of the powerful Washington establishment. Reporters on the economics beat are no exception. But if you happen to make the acquaintance of a certain Washington-based reporter for the Times, it is possible he will be a bit hesitant to give you his card.

Other than the standard information (name, corporate logo, office telephone number, etc.), this journalist’s business card provides recipients with a rather sweeping assessment of the impact of globalization. When he finally hands out his card, the correspondent makes it clear with an apologetic shrug that the New York Times evidently regards the entire world as a mere appendix of the U.S. economy.

His official job title — International Economics Correspondent — had been erroneously been changed to “Internal Economics Correspondent.” Possibly more than any other item, this trophy of a business card clearly reflects the present economic and technical dominance of the United States.

But there is good news as well. If the process of global integration keeps proceeding at a rapid pace, before too long all former international economic correspondents might sport business cards announcing their title as “internal economics correspondent.” In the end, even his superiors might actually soon agree to their printing department’s approach.