In order to build readers' confidence, an internal committee at The New York Times has recommended taking a variety of steps, including having senior editors write more regularly about the workings of the paper, tracking errors in a systematic way and responding more assertively to the paper's critics....
It also said The Times should make the paper's operations and decisions more transparent to readers through methods like making transcripts of interviews available on its Web site.
Great! What a boon to bloggers! Is it too much to hope that we'll be able to get permalinks to the transcripts? Not to mention the articles. Bloggers will -- they must know -- have a field day finding discrepancies and imagined discrepancies between articles and their underlying transcripts.
But the Times was motivated to quell bloggers:
One area of particular concern to [executive editor Bill] Keller at the outset was the relentless public criticism of the paper, amplified by both the left and right on the Internet, that peaked during last year's presidential campaign. The paper was largely silent during those attacks, and Mr. Keller asked the committee to consider whether it was "any longer possible to stand silent and stoic under fire."I love their idea of focusing on people like me.
The committee asserted that The Times must respond to its critics. The report said it was hard for the paper to resist being in a "defensive crouch" during the election but now urged The Times to explain itself "actively and earnestly" to critics and to readers who are often left confused when charges go unanswered.
"We strongly believe it is no longer sufficient to argue reflexively that our work speaks for itself," the report stated. "In today's media environment, such a minimal response damages our credibility," it added. As a result, the committee said, the newsroom should develop a strategy for evaluating public attacks on The Times and determining whether and how to respond to them. "We need to be more assertive about explaining ourselves - our decisions, our methods, our values, how we operate," the committee said, acknowledging that "there are those who love to hate The Times"' and suggesting a focus instead on people who do not have "fixed" opinions about the paper. A parallel goal of this strategy, the committee said, was to assure reporters "that they will be defended when they are subjected to unfair attack." The defense should be led by journalists in the newsroom, the report said, "with support and advice from our corporate communications, marketing and legal departments."