You can read what the public editor, Clark Hoyt, has to say on the subject here. Note the URL. I love the way the URL generator coined the word "pubed" out of public editor. It's not a new coinage though. Urban Dictionary has already defined "pube" — usually a noun — as a verb. Definition #5:
to place a hair from the pubic male region on a piece of food to be served to a customer usually though not necessarily, by a worker of the establishmentThere's got to be an analogy here, but I will move back to Hoyt's gentle probing of his employer. I'll skip a lot of the details, which you either know or can read at the first link. I'll just quote a couple things I want to comment on.
"i was pubed last night by the guys at jj's" (past tense)
Some stories, lacking facts, never catch fire. But others do, and a newspaper like The Times needs to be alert to them or wind up looking clueless or, worse, partisan itself.
Some editors told me they were not immediately aware of the Acorn videos on Fox, YouTube and a new conservative Web site called BigGovernment.com.And Hoyt yelled "You lie!" No, he probably didn't, but come on. They had to be lying. I'd prefer to think they were lying. How could they be that out of the loop? It takes 2 seconds to glance at Drudge and Memeorandum. If you have any interest in current events, it's harder not to do than to do.
And what's with "Some stories, lacking facts, never catch fire." Isn't the Times in the business of looking for facts? A great newspaper should be setting the "fires" — breaking stories — not covering stories that other people have broken, which is what the Times was left doing with ACORN.
[O]n Sept. 16, nearly a week after the first video was posted, The Times took note of the controversy, under the headline, “Conservatives Draw Blood From Acorn, Favored Foe.”...
By stressing the politics, the article irritated more readers. “A suspicious person might see an attempt to deflect criticism of Acorn by highlighting how those pesky conservatives are at it again,” said Albert Smith of Chatham, N.J.Emphasizing the politics was a way of pretending that the earlier story wasn't news fit to print. It wasn't so embarrassingly late to be talking about the politics of it all.
I thought politics was emphasized too much, at the expense of questions about an organization whose employees in city after city participated in outlandish conversations about illegal and immoral activities....
[The reporter Scott] Shane said he thought it was correct to approach the Acorn sting as a political story. Absent that aspect, he said, the discussion of prostitution by low-level employees was not compelling news.All that may be true, but why hasn't the Times ever investigated ACORN in all these years? Why was it left to a couple of quirky amateurs to bring some light to a huge shady operation. Follow great journalistic ethics and investigate some things and bring us some facts.
Some conservatives think O’Keefe and Giles were doing work that should have been done by the mainstream media. But most news organizations consider such tactics unethical — The Times specifically prohibits reporters from misrepresenting themselves or making secret recordings. And the two were sloppy with facts.
Jill Abramson, the managing editor for news, agreed with me that the paper was “slow off the mark,” and blamed “insufficient tuned-in-ness to the issues that are dominating Fox News and talk radio.” She and Bill Keller, the executive editor, said last week that they would now assign an editor to monitor opinion media and brief them frequently on bubbling controversies. Keller declined to identify the editor, saying he wanted to spare that person “a bombardment of e-mails and excoriation in the blogosphere.”So you're assigning somebody to get the clues you've been too lame to pick up, and yet you don't want people to be able to send him clues because — you've got to be kidding! — he'd get too much email. Who with any level of connectedness has not learned to deal with a ton of email?! Come on. I want to just yell "bullshit!," but I'll spell it out. I get 100s of email messages every day, and it's not even my job to pick up clues. I deal with it, and it's not even that hard. You have an email address that is different from the one you use with people you know and trust, and you scan the first lines as they appear in the inbox. From that alone, you can see what's going on, and you can choose to click through to whatever you want and spend as little as half a second reading it if you are any good. Damn, if your clue-getter isn't able to do that, you might as well give up and write more stories about what middle-aged moms in Park Slope are saying about popsicles and iPhones.
And as for the desire to avoid excoriation in the blogosphere... have a nice day.