The New York Times Gets a ‘Rare Glimpse’ Quite Often

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Photo: Ramin Talaie

Diligent readers of the New York Times are, on one hand, de facto public editors, tracking large-scale shifts in the hallowed pages and speaking up — in their own best interest — to keep the paper honest. On the other hand, we (yes, us included!) are as bad as Star Trek or Community fans with all of the endless nitpicking, eager to point out minor inconsistencies and silly patterns over time. Obsessives have already noticed the Paper of Record's love for turns of phrase like "a portrait emerges" and "into sharp relief," but another popped up a few times this weekend: "So far three stories in my NYT A section with either 'glimpse' or 'offers a rare glimpse' in headline or lede," tweeted Talking Points Memo reporter Benjy Sarlin about the Sunday edition. To which Times reporter Nick Confessore responded, "Guilty!" But he's not the only one.

In 2012 so far, a variation of the phrase "rare glimpse" turns up nearly 30 times (not including within quotes) across all sections of the Times and its website. But what's being glimpsed is always much more varied than the way in which it's described. Consider the scope:

  • " ... Rare Glimpse of U.S.-China Frictions"
  • "A Rare Glimpse Inside the Ivy League’s Academic Index"
  • " ... a rare glimpse at the medical emergency that has developed as the Syrian conflict rages on."
  • " ... a rare glimpse of monks inside the highly restricted and restive part of western China."
  • " ... a rare glimpse at what used to be ... "
  • " ... a rare glimpse into the medical problems of people with private health insurance who are under 65." 
  • " ... a rare glimpse of the once-thriving Mission Creek flowing on its way to China Basin."
  • " ... a rare glimpse of the internal thinking motivating the campaign against climate science ... "
  • " ... a rare glimpse of an indigenous culture’s spiritual practices."
  • " ... a rare glimpse of the spate of self-immolations across North Africa and the Middle East in emulation of the Tunisian protest that helped set off the Arab Spring."
  • " ... a rare glimpse of senior officials in relatively unguarded conversation ... "
  • " ... a rare glimpse ... [at] a modern-looking shuanggui center in April 2011."
  • " ... a rare glimpse into ancient Canaanite high society."
  • " ... a rare glimpse into the experience of a Western recruit to militant jihad."
  • " ... a rare glimpse into The Times’s archive of newspaper clippings and photographs."
  • " ... a rare glimpse into his plans if the 'fraudulent' foreclosure leads to the 'fraudulent' eviction."
  • " ... a rare glimpse of the inner workings of Al Qaeda ... "
  • " ... a rare glimpse into how Mr. Murdoch ... views the rapidly changing media landscape and the effect of technology on journalism."
  • " ... a rare glimpse into the Obama administration’s agenda ... "
  • " ... a rare glimpse of the wild parrots of Beverly Hills ... "
  • " ... a very rare glimpse into a region that the government has taken great pains to cut off from the outside world."
  • " ... a rare glimpse into the Assad family’s perception of a likely outcome of the uprising ... "
  • " ... a rare glimpse of the government's internal efforts to manage one of its biggest political earthquakes in years."
  • " ... a rare glimpse of a single life transformed by an uprising that has jolted thousands from their daily routines ... "
  • " ... a rare glimpse into the recruiting, reconnaissance and warfare tactics used by the shadowy hacking collective."
  • " ... a rare glimpse inside the plant ... "

And it goes back much further — to say nothing of not-rare glimpses! And before some crafty thesaurus wizard gets to work, "a rare look" has more than its share of play too (sometimes within the same story).

But word choice aside: Thank you, Grey Lady, for being our ever-curious eyes.