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"The Gray Lady" is the nickname given to the venerable New York Times newspaper.

The name, of course, refers to the front page of the paper, which appears gray from a distance because of the small type and close columns.

The nickname is used often in news stories by competitors that talk about the paper and its policies. It is not used by Times reporters to refer to their own newspaper.

The term "Gray Lady" is one of fondness, despite the newspaper's tendency and desire to stir controversy and discussion. The nickname signifies the paper's place as the nation's -- and possibly the world's -- most respected news oracle.