From a Q & A on NYT.com with culture reporter Robin Pogebrin:
Not an insignificant issue, when you think about where the cultural sensibilities of the contemporary theatre are compared to those of the NY Times, which--based on the evidence of this questioner at least--date from about 1964.
Q. American culture has had — and currently has — naked opera divas, actors and musicians and other degrading aspects of "culture" that a decent person cannot even mention. Does The Times have any policy about reporting these aspects of American culture?
A. The New York Times tries to make its cultural coverage as comprehensive as possible, all the while keeping in mind matters of taste and what makes for appropriate family reading at the breakfast table.
Small case in point: the Times would not print the full titles of important plays like Suzan-Lori Parks' Fuckin' A and Mark Ravenhill's Shopping and Fucking even while reviewing and reporting on them.
Now I'm not saying they have to report on the Off-Off actor who's currently sporting a live erection on stage--but I say that only because the play has not proved itself otherwise newsworthy. What if it had? What if David Mamet or Caryl Churchill wrote it and it was staged at the Public?
Far be it from me to tell NYT to start sullying their pages with...what was the word? oh, "degrading" words and subjects. I'm just saying--they're probably the only newspaper or magazine dedicated to "serious" arts coverage (i.e. maintaining a "standard" for arts coverage) that still censors themselves in this way. So while, for instance, the New Yorker, New York, Time Out, and American Theatre are cursing up a storm and relating to both the culture and the readers by 2009 measures of propriety--the Times will inevitably seem stodgy in comparison to the younger readers of today, who in turn will be the majority readers of tomorrow.
In short they may be imposing on their arts department a significant handicap in dealing with the arts of today. Such are the dilemmas of any news organization striving for "general readership" (i.e. mondo profits). Maybe it's time, for their sake, for some offshoot website, at least???