Just as a nerd with a makeover turns his back on old friends, the increasingly digital New York Times must say goodbye to some of its dusty analog staff. A recent casualty, on November 28, was the legendary Recording Room, which reporters could reach via telephone to dictate their stories to dutiful transcribers. But nowadays reporters can just e-mail their stories in, whether from Kansas or Kathmandu, and the Recording Room has been rendered obsolete.
John Koblin wrote about the Room’s life and times for the New York Observer, and some Times veterans have since added their own stories and goodbyes in the comment thread. Calling the Recording Room while reporting overseas was a “great comfort, something akin to talking to your mother,” wrote one commenter. Another reporter was less nostalgic:
The Recording Room sometimes misheard ordinary words, leading to embarrassment or worse for the reporter or subject of the story. One time I was reporting on the volunteer work done by a famous conductor-composer in the New York suburban community in which he lived. I wrote something like,“he gives his time effortlessly on behalf of music.” In print it became “he gives his time fruitlessly on behalf of music.” The composer was furious and demanded a correction, which he got.
And so the Recording Room goes the way of the carriage, the chimney-sweep and the record label: to the annals of obsolescence.