No more psychology at NY

  It used to be that my Sunday-morning routine included a check of the New York Times’ online psychology section: the “mental health and behavior” page.  But, after two weeks of waiting for an update, it seems the section has been cancelled.

The “new and improved” health section was discussed recently in the Science Times podcast (MP3).  There was no mention of the cancellation.

Instead, Mike Mason promoted the new site as a portal; an aggregation of content from across the paper.  Here’s his elevator pitch:

The population is getting older.  There’s a thirst for health information out there.  What’s out there right now is not always consumer friendly; it’s not always based on the news.  It’s an interesting thing for a news organization to go into this audience and say, “This is something we do every day.  We’ll give you the in-depth information but we’re also going to bring our expertise to bear on what the research says.”  There’s not another health site that has the depth of reporting expertise that the Times can bring to bear on any given subject.  And I think that’s going to make us distinct from any other health resource on the Internet.

The psychology section has been replaced by a health guide, reader opinion, and a potentially promising — but so far frustratingly general — “research” page.

What you find when you go to your basic disease reference site is a lot of information about symptoms and causes, and of course we carry that too.  But you don’t find a lot of perspective from a reporter who covers the beat, or a writer who knows the subject matter, about what’s going on with the research–what are the arguments the researchers themselves are having, what are scientists saying amongst themselves.

Personally, I preferred the old site.  And, when I wanted to see front-line discussions, I would simply head over to Science Blogs.

But if you go looking, there’s still psychology to be had at the Times.  It’s just hidden away in a small box, about 3 inches square, on the research page.

Health Care Policy is now Money & Policy.  Fitness & Nutrition stayed put.


About Jeremy Burman

Jeremy Trevelyan Burman is a senior doctoral student in York University’s Department of Psychology, specializing in the history of developmental psychology and its theory (especially that pertaining to Jean Piaget). Prior to returning to academia, he was a producer at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

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