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Felix Salmon Says that the New York Times Shrinks Its Economics Coverage

Perhaps we are to be replaced by more stories about "hero CEOs"--although Steve Greenhouse has an excellent piece in that genre up right now:

Finance Blog - Market Movers: The New York Times, until now, has had three economics columns. Economic Scene was written by economists: it rotated between Tyler Cowen, Austan Goolsbee, Robert Frank, and Hal Varian. Economic View was written by journalists, including Daniel Altman, Dan Gross, and Louis Uchitelle. Finally, Times staffer David Leonhardt had his own Wednesday column, Economix.

Today, all that changed.

Leonhardt's column is still there, but it is now called Economic Scene. And so the question arises: if Economix has become Economic Scene, what has happened to the Economic Scene of old? Leonhardt answered that at the end of his column: it has become Economic View. All the old Scene columnists bar Varian will be squeezed into View, along with new columnists Greg Mankiw, Alan Blinder, Judith Chevalier, Robert Shiller, and Lester Thurow. (Varian apparently doesn't have the time to continue to write for newspapers, now he's working for Google.)

For those of you keeping count at home, that's eight high-profile economists sharing one slot in the Sunday newspaper.

And what's happened to Economic View? Leonhardt doesn't come right out and say so, but it seems to have been killed off entirely.

Was there too much economics in the NYT, which is literally shrinking in August and might need to make cuts? Elsewhere in the NYT there's Paul Krugman, of course, with his own op-ed columns, but those are rarely particularly economics-based these days. And every so often the Levitt 'n' Dubner team writes a Freakonomics column in the Sunday magazine – there have been four of those so far this year.

This is not good news for economic discourse in the mainstream press. One column every two months is not much of a platform: it will take years for readers to get a decent feel for where each of the columnists stands. And while the Economic View column was not always scintillating, it was a million times better than the half page of undigested tripe filed every week by the dreadful Ben Stein. To kill View but to keep Stein alive betrays a sense of priorities which can't bode well for the NYT Business section.