Jo 704 Newstrack

NY Times-The Crossword

Growing up, it felt like the ultimate test of intelligence. My father and my grandmother competed intensely whenever we visited. Who could do the Saturday puzzle in pen faster? It had to be erasable pen, thought, so whoever got to the paper second could still do the puzzle.

Finding the crossword on the NYTimes website is easy: it’s in the top right corner next to the pulldown menu for your account.

When I started trying to do the puzzles myself, it was my last fall semester of college, where free newspapers were delivered daily to a rack just outside the café where I liked to get breakfast. I grabbed a newspaper, and a pencil, and sat down to try to do one.

“No, don’t try today,” said my friend Julie, who did the crossword every day, usually in less than half an hour, with a pen. “It’s Thursday.” I had no idea what she meant. “You need to wait until Monday.” The puzzles get more difficult as the week progresses, with the easiest on Monday and the most difficult on Saturday.

It’s not just as simple as looking at the clue, there’s a technique. Start with at the end, with the last clue in the down category, Julie explained. Those were the easiest. Whether that’s actually true, I’ve never been able to tell because I’m still terrible at them, but they’re a wonderful resource for those who enjoy them.

The New York Times website states “Playing The New York Times Crossword means entering a world where your curiosity is always rewarded.” The puzzle is available in the print version, but there are also versions for mobile apps, and miniature variations that subscribers can play.

According to an article written by Richard F. Shepard in 1992, the New York Times was the last paper to adopt the crossword puzzle in 1942, which I find funny since it is now the golden standard for crosswords. Being able to do the daily puzzle, in pen, seems to me very impressive.

My feelings might, again, be due to the fact that the only time I have completed the New York Times Crossword without cheating was last week with an online Tuesday (or maybe Wednesday) puzzle projected at the front of the class with at least 10 people helping the effort.

It still took us three hours.

Later in the article, Shepard says “For a feature whose main purpose is entertainment, it is for many an emotional, serious Sunday business, by turns frustrating and heartwarming.”

For more than seventy years, this has probably been true.


Deer Crossing

Deer aren’t just a nuisance to gardeners, leaping over tall fences to munch on vegetation, they’re also a hazard to drivers.

On a midsummer night on 495 North, Emily Ijams was driving home from work. Then her car, a 2013 Toyota corolla, was totalled. The cause? A Deer.

“It jumped right into my driver’s side headlight,” said Emily. “I would have expected it to swerve my car out of the lane. So obviously I was really lucky.”

No one was hurt except the deer, but the car behind her pulled to the side of the road with her to wait for a tow truck. Her story is more common than you might think.

Every year, hundreds of drivers in Massachusetts collide with Deer. More than 2,000 incidents have occurred since January 2016. As of September of 2019, 465 collisions had already been reported. More than fifty of the reported collisions between January 2016 and September 2019 involved police cruisers.    

There were 100 more reported collisions between 2016 and 2018, and 2019 is on track to be higher even than the numbers reported in 2018.

David Stainbrook, a Deer and Moose Project Leader for the Masachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife said that he would expect more collisions in the fall. During a presentation on October 20, 2019, he explained that in the fall, 1.5 year old male deer move to new territory. This is the only time that deer will leave their home range. Home ranges for deer are about 1-3 square miles, he said.

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In the last three years, there has been a consistent increase in collisions in the fall, as Stainbrook expected, but there is also a similar increase in reported collisions in June, which was when Ijams had her accident with the deer on 495.

The location of Ijams accident is also notable. Stainbrook said he would expect to see more collisions to the West of I-495.

Above, you can use the window at the upper left corner to look at yearly collision numbers in each town.

The reason for the separation along 495, he explained during the presentation, is that populations of deer are being managed more effectively. There are more avenues of access for regulated hunting strictly during the fall to control deer populations in the Western part of the state.

If not controlled in some manner, deer populations will increase constantly until the population reaches the point of starvation, Stainbrook explained during the presentation. In areas where the deer population is being managed, towns have seen a decrease in car collisions, he said.  

In the East, there are fewer avenues of access for hunters to control the population, and the impact of deer browsing on forests to the East of 495 are above a normal range, he said.

The exact number of deer in any given area cannot be calculated easily, but observing significant impacts on the forest indicate that the population is higher than the forest can tolerate, he said. A larger population of deer means it is more likely that some will wander onto a road and get hit.

Whatever the cause, the unexpected summer increase indicates that drivers should try to be as vigilant about deer in June as they are in the fall.  

Jo 704 Newstrack

NY Times-Multimedia Part 1: The Weekly

The New York Times has been diversifying how it presents content to its users. Between interactives, videos, and podcasts, there’s plenty of ways to read, listen and stream content.

According to the HULU website, “The Weekly brings the unparalleled journalism of the New York Times to the screen for the first time.”

There are only 18 episodes released so far, and to my knowledge, HULU does not post viewing statistics, so I can’t determine how popular the episodes may be. Each of the episodes have 100 or more comments on the New York Times website, however, and one, Episode 8: ‘Hard Left’ has 810 comments, with the exception of Episode 12: ‘Apple’s Gold’ which has only 87 comments at the time of this writing.

Episode 8: Hard Left has more than 800 comments. Captured at 7:34PM on November 3, 2019 from

The episode Hard Left and Episode 15: ‘Rudy! Rudy?’ are both very political in nature, and have the most comments on the New York Times website, and 594 for Episode 16: ‘Segregated City’, which seems to suggest that political episodes garner the most traffic on the New York Times website.

Surprisingly, given how much comment traffic the other two political episodes got, Episode 17: ‘Mr. McGahn’ got comparatively fewer, coming in at only 217. Whether this is because the other episodes have been posted for longer or that ‘Mr. McGahn’ did not indicate in the title that it was political, is unclear.

Not only do we hear from the reporters, the filming crew gets included, too. Captured at 7:30PM on November 3, 2019 from

The half an hour long episodes, which are available streaming Sunday night on FX, and Monday on HULU, are promoted on the New York Times website with a preview and a few paragraphs about what the episode will be about, and who is involved. Some of the blurbs also highlight the featured reporters, highlights from behind the scenes, and key takeaways of the episode.

The episodes seem to take a different approach to reporting than a typical New York Times story, where the reporters are participating in the documentary-style episodes, instead of merely reporting. The reporters are part of the episodes, including footage of them at work, how long they’ve been working on these stories, and, sometimes, their reasons for their interest. “But here’s something I’ve always wondered about…” said one reporter during the Episode 10: ‘The Memo’.

The reporter for the story of Episode 1: The Memo being candid. Credit: HULU streaming, captured at 7:26PM on November 3, 2019.

Also included is how they may be responding to the story, even the most difficult parts of reporting. For example, in the first episode, Episode 1: The Education of T.M. Landry, the reporters are filmed talking with their editor about the possible ramifications to the students involved in the story, and one of the reporters is particularly emotional. Not only are the reporters narrating, we get to witness reporters as real people, not just bylines.

I think this style of storytelling is really powerful: we don’t just get to witness the report, we witness real people doing their jobs, and informing the public.

Jo 704 Newstrack

NY Times-Instagram and Twitter frequency

The NY times maintains Instagram and twitter. They have themed accounts on both sites, for books, tech, arts, and others. The twitter feeds are frequently updated, while Instagram feeds seem to be falling by the wayside. Even the NYtimes book twitter has been updated twice today already, while the main Instagram account hasn’t been updated in a while.

At the time of this writing, the NYtimes posted on their main twitter two minutes, thirteen minutes, and twenty three minutes ago. The last time they posted on their main Instagram account was yesterday. I think it’s interesting that they don’t post as frequently on their Instagram since the reception on Instagram seems to be more robust. Something newsworthy on twitter that went up at around the same time (15 hours ago), received only 270 likes, 80 retweets, and 164 comments. The Instagram post, meanwhile, garnered 114 comments and more than 10k likes.

Credit: NYtimes twitter feed, captured at 9:45AM on October 7, 2019.
Credit: Nytimes instagram, Captured at 9:49AM on October 7, 2019

There are a few things that could explain the NYtimes Instagram post’s popularity. It is the last thing that was posted, so it’s the first thing that comes up if you visit the NYtimes page. The twitter post, on the other hand, required a lot of scrolling to find. Since the twitter feed posts more frequently, when people check the feed, something that happened 15 hours ago is very far down, and people might not be scrolling all the way down until the last place they checked.  

The content could also come into play. The tweet I’m referring to is a story by the NYtimes revealing that the president of the Philippines has a neuromuscular disease. The Instagram post is a fun piece on a themed train ride inspired by “Soul Train.” It’s newsworthy because people are having fun at a unique event, and, as it’s Instagram, so it’s a story with a prominent photo which is easy to relate to.

All in all, though, it seems like the NYtimes is mostly ignoring a platform where news and photos get a lot of good reception.