Crunching the New Yorker

Crunching the New Yorker: Could someone run the numbers on why this story was assigned by the book editor of the NY Times? Out of the thousands of seniors graduating from Ivy League schools this month, Katherine L. Milkman’s senior thesis at Princeton University gained feature-coverage from the Times. Why? Because she crunched lots of numbers about fiction appearing in The New Yorker.

The 116-page thesis makes such conclusions as:

“…male editors generally publish male authors who write about male characters who are supported by female characters.

A student in the Department of Operations Research and Financial Engineering, Katherine told the Times, “Many people thought it was completely idiotic,” she said. “But when they found out I would actually be reading the stories, they were more understanding.”

Next fall, Katherine (who the reporter adds a paragraph or two so the reader can learn she is a fun-loving, partying girl and not the complete geek the rest of the story convinces us she is) will attend Harvard Business School, seeking a doctorate in information technology and management. Party on.

2 thoughts on “Crunching the New Yorker

  1. Hey, it’s tough filling the Times with hard hitting stories. Oh, wait, digging at crosstown folks is fun too.

  2. I’m sorry. The girl’s thesis was ridiculous. Unless she also had the paper trail [emails, notes from meetings, editors’ comments, etc.] to back up her theory, it’s reductionism at its worst. Fiction is highly complex and subjective and cannot be reduced to “story set in Upper West Side with male protagonist.” You can write 10 stories or even 100 or more that fit that description and they’d all be completely different in style, tone, writing, etc. This is bunk.

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