NYTimes Predicted San Francisco Would 'Drown In Millionaires' Post IPO Boom; Now Whines That It Never Happened
from the so-much-hype dept
Back in March, NY Times reporter Nellie Bowles had quite a story, announcing that When Uber and Airbnb Go Public, San Francisco Will Drown In Millionaires. Nearly all of the article was quotes from various third party service providers — real estate, financial planners, party planners — excitedly planning to cash in, but the overall tone of the article was basically one big “Man, San Francisco is sure going to be totally overrun by obnoxious insanely rich tech bros.” When that article came out, I think I heard about it from just about everyone I knew. People both here in the Bay Area and elsewhere were all commenting on it — in many cases worried what it would do to where we all live.
And, basically none of it happened. So rather than explore why NY Times reporter Nellie Bowles got it wrong, she’s just written a new article about the same types of folks as the last article, complaining that they can’t find all the “zillionaires” they expected. Maybe because that’s not how any of this works and the original article was feeding a nonsense narrative? But that’s not covered. There’s no mention of the earlier article at all. There’s no exploration of why the predictions didn’t come true. Just scores of quotes from people disappointed that the throngs of stupid rich tech bros spending silly money didn’t actually appear.
This seems like the kind of thing that the NY Times would know better than to do. Both stories are making grand claims, where data could and should exist, but supporting them solely with a few limited anecdotes. There are good times to use anecdotes as a narrative tool in reporting, but considering how frequently I heard from people who honestly believed that tech IPOs were going to completely change San Francisco over the past few months — which didn’t even remotely happen — it seems like the NY Times owes readers a bit more self-reflection on why it ran the original story, why it framed it the way it did, and why its predictions that were written as if they were set in stone never actually happened.
This is the kind of thing that the NY Times used to have a “public editor” to handle, but the NY Times decided a few yeas back that it no longer needed such a position. Each and every day we learn more about why that was a mistake.