Connect with us


The New York Times debuts a fellowship for crossword constructors – Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard



The New York Times announced a new fellowship for crossword constructors on Monday aimed at increasing the number of puzzles created by underrepresented groups, including women, people of color, and those in the LGBTQ community.
The New York Times Diverse Crossword Constructor Fellowship, which will be open to applications for a month starting Feb. 7, is one answer to criticism that the Times has been slow to diversify its crossword clues, answers, editors, and (yup) stable of constructors.

“You’ll get a rejection from the Times saying ‘This is not something that the average solver will know,’ which carries with it this connotation that an average solver is a white man in his 50s,” one crossword constructor told me last year. “There’s an expectation that the person solving your puzzle looks like Will Shortz.” (Until editors Wyna Liu and Tracy Bennett were hired in 2020, the Times puzzle team consisted of three white men.)
The chosen fellows will receive three months of mentorship from one of five puzzle editors — that’s Liu, Bennett, Joel Fagliano, Sam Ezersky, and the legendary Shortz — as they work to construct a puzzle for general submission. Only those who have not yet had a puzzle published by The New York Times will be considered.
The new constructor fellowship is the brainchild of Everdeen Mason, who joined the Times as editorial director for Games almost exactly a year ago. Mason said creating a fellowship has been on her mind from the very beginning.
The New York Times, even while interviewing Mason for the job, had acknowledged it need to change. Part of the diversity problem was self-perpetuating, Mason saw. Constructors seemed to have a fixed idea of the kind of puzzles that The New York Times chose to publish.
“It was becoming clear that people were sending us the kinds of puzzles they thought would get in rather than really pushing the limits and trying to show us new things,” Mason said.
The fellowship, she hopes, can help kick off a new pattern. “I think that in mentoring these constructors, we’re going to learn stuff, too,” Mason said. “And we’re going to be able to model certain things. If we see a really cool puzzle with new kinds of clues and fills and publish it, hopefully that encourages people to give us more like that.”
The learning curve for potential constructors can be steep, and the digital tools most popular with professional constructors can be costly and user unfriendly. Mason noted the barrier to entry and ensured the fellowship application does not require a fully-constructed puzzle. Instead, applicants can submit “a theme set with theme clues,” a partially filled 15×15 grid, and a grid as small as 7×7.
Under Mason, the Times has also launched a new weekly column to give insight into puzzle answers new, old, and evolving. (The first edition gave the story behind the answer to “Italian cheese city.”) Mason has also debuted a testing panel that gives feedback on puzzles and has described the panel as “a vibe check” that — aside from looking for typos and fact checking, done separately — is particularly interested in whether the puzzle is fun for a diverse group of people to play.
The crossword editors also now meet for editorial workshops where the entire team gets to “argue and philosophize” about puzzles, Mason said. “It’s a really good chance to equalize the playing field. The editors have an opportunity to talk about their point of view when editing puzzles, so it wasn’t just trying to replicate what Will would do.”
It’s in these editorial workshops that the NYT Games team asks itself, when does a word or bit of slang or cultural reference become puzzle-worthy? Those creating puzzles tend to consider whether the term has longevity (or will go the way of, say, “tubular”) and what portion of their audience can reach the right answer from reading a clue.
Editors at the Times have long checked newspaper and magazine archives to test a word’s popularity and now take online search results and social trending topics into account, too. Clues for perennially popular answers can evolve as well. Take “ogle,” for example. The New York Times recently shared that the term has been used 438 times in its crossword, but that “descriptions of the word have gone from ‘flirt,’ in 1942, or ‘gaze amorously,’ in 1994, to ‘It’s not a good look’ or ‘eye lewdly,’ in 2021.”
Mason considers herself a word game lover but doesn’t go in for streaks or solving for speed. She’ll often use AutoCheck, she says, and gets more delight from clever clues and personality-filled themes than competing against her previous times.
“Frankly, I’m Black and Puerto Rican and queer and I’m in my early 30s,” Mason said. “Any time I get to a solve a clue, and it’s something that I know, something that feels really relevant and fresh to me — whether it’s pop culture that I’m familiar with, or a food — I get so excited.”
She recalled seeing “mofongo” — a plantain mash — in an unpublished puzzle, and said she’d love to see more submissions with specific points of view.
“I’m really on the lookout for removing fill that’s not relevant but we just decided everyone needed to know,” she said. If clues can be solved with “a ventriloquist from the 70s,” why can’t they also be solved with answers taken, say, from early aughts rave culture?

Sharing more of this behind-the-scenes work is just one part of a larger plan to, as Mason says, “beef up” the “context and storytelling side” of NYT Games as it seeks more daily solvers and more subscribers. (Games, along with Cooking, passed 1 million subscriptions in 2021.)
“A lot of what I have been working on is building what I call an ecosystem. I don’t want people to just come in and play a game and leave,” Mason said. “Our games provide not just an outlet for people to self soothe and improve their mental health, but also to connect with other people. You want to provide a place where people can get a full experience.”
“It’ll be a lot of throwing spaghetti at the wall in the beginning,” Mason added. “But I hope that it helps us connect with new and different audiences who are maybe interested in nerdy things like etymology or the culture behind different words and slang — and brings them in in this other way. That’s something I’ve been really mapping out and working towards.”
I had to ask Mason about Wordle, that dead-simple-but-seriously-addictive game that has been clogging up your Twitter feed with gray, yellow, and green squares. Mason said that she hadn’t played the game yet herself but that everyone else on the Games team was giving it a go.
“I think if anything, it has sort of lit a fire under my ass because it’s clear people are hungry for more games, more word games, and more unique games,” Mason said. “I’m excited to hopefully work on new games in the future so it’s really inspiring.”
Cite this articleHide citations
Scire, Sarah. “The New York Times debuts a fellowship for crossword constructors.” Nieman Journalism Lab. Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, 11 Jan. 2022. Web. 13 Jan. 2022.
Scire, S. (2022, Jan. 11). The New York Times debuts a fellowship for crossword constructors. Nieman Journalism Lab. Retrieved January 13, 2022, from
Scire, Sarah. “The New York Times debuts a fellowship for crossword constructors.” Nieman Journalism Lab. Last modified January 11, 2022. Accessed January 13, 2022.
{{cite web
    | url =
    | title = The New York Times debuts a fellowship for crossword constructors
    | last = Scire
    | first = Sarah
    | work = [[Nieman Journalism Lab]]
    | date = 11 January 2022
    | accessdate = 13 January 2022
    | ref = {{harvid|Scire|2022}}
To promote and elevate the standards of journalism
Covering thought leadership in journalism
Pushing to the future of journalism
Exploring the art and craft of story
The Nieman Journalism Lab is a collaborative attempt to figure out how quality journalism can survive and thrive in the Internet age.
It’s a project of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University.


Continue Reading
Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply


TOP 4 Essay Writing Services in the USA: 2023 Edition



essay writing services reddit

As an increasing number of students seek assistance with their academic assignments, the demand for reliable essay writing services continues to grow. With so many options available, it can be challenging to identify the best service providers. To help you make an informed decision, we have compiled a list of the top 4 essay writing services in the USA for 2023. These services have been carefully evaluated based on their reputation, quality of work, customer satisfaction, and affordability. Read on to discover the top essay writing services that can provide you with the support you need to excel in your academic journey.

essay writing services reddit

essay writing services reddit

What Makes a Great Essay Writing Service

Before delving into the top essay writing services reddit, it’s essential to understand the criteria we used to evaluate them. A great essay-writing service should possess the following qualities:

  • Quality of Work: The service should deliver well-researched, original, and high-quality essays that meet academic standards.
  • Professional Writers: The service should have a team of qualified writers with expertise in various subjects who can handle diverse topics.
  • Timely Delivery: The service should be reliable and capable of delivering essays within the given deadline.
  • Customer Support: The service should provide excellent customer support, ensuring effective communication throughout the writing process.
  • Affordability: The service should offer reasonable pricing plans that are affordable for students while maintaining the quality of work.

Now, let’s explore the top 4 essay writing services in the USA for 2023.

TOP 4 Essay Writing Services in the USA: 2023 Edition

2.1 EssayPro

EssayPro is a highly reputable essay writing service known for its commitment to quality and customer satisfaction. They have a diverse team of experienced writers who can handle a wide range of subjects. EssayPro offers a user-friendly platform, allowing students to place orders easily and track the progress of their essays. Their pricing is competitive, and they offer additional features such as plagiarism reports and unlimited revisions.

2.2 Grademiners

Grademiners is a popular choice among students due to its excellent track record and reliability. They have a team of highly skilled writers who are proficient in various academic disciplines. Grademiners ensures on-time delivery and provides 24/7 customer support to address any concerns. They also offer free revisions and a money-back guarantee, ensuring customer satisfaction.

2.3 Ultius

Ultius is known for its exceptional writing services and commitment to customer privacy and security. They have a rigorous writer selection process, ensuring that only qualified professionals handle the essays. Ultius offers a wide range of writing services, including essay writing, editing, and proofreading. They also provide a mobile app for convenient communication and order tracking.

2.4 EduBirdie

EduBirdie is a trusted essay writing service that offers a unique feature called “choose your own writer.” Students can browse through profiles and select a writer who matches their requirements. This personalized approach allows for effective collaboration and ensures that the final essay meets the student’s expectations. EduBirdie also provides 24/7 customer support and guarantees 100% original and plagiarism-free content.

How We Evaluated the Services

To evaluate the essay writing services, we considered several factors, including:

  • Reputation and reliability
  • Quality of work and adherence to academic standards
  • Customer reviews and satisfaction
  • Pricing and affordability
  • Additional features and guarantees
  • Customer support and communication

By carefully analyzing these aspects, we identified the top 4 essay writing services that offer outstanding support to students.


Choosing a reliable essay writing service is crucial for students seeking academic assistance. The top 4 essay writing services mentioned in this article – EssayPro, Grademiners, Ultius, and EduBirdie – have proven their worth in terms of quality, reliability, and customer satisfaction. Whether you need help with an essay, research paper, or any other academic assignment, these services can provide you with the support you need to succeed in your studies.

Continue Reading


%d bloggers like this: