May 9, 2005

The NYT responds to bloggers' criticism with a rich new source of bloggable material.

From the NYT:
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."

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."
I love their idea of focusing on people like me.


amy said...

I love how it doesn't even occur to them to, you know, actually BE more accurate? To maybe try and not be so frigging biased all the time?

tarpon said...

Yep, the simple fact is the NYTimes would do fine, if they would stick to the truth. Their daily diatribe 'the world according to Chuckie and Hillary' just isn't going to fly with red states.

But what would we do if they did go straight?

Ann Althouse said...

Bill: I blog NYT articles all the time for their substantive content, not just to criticize the paper's shortcomings -- an overplayed topic. It's a great source of news, not just about politics, but science, culture, and all sorts of miscellany. I'd much rather blog about things about the world that I can see by reading the paper than blog about the paper!

Contributors said...

This sounds like a defiant stand as opposed to one learned from obvious mistakes and biases. They're just opening themselves up to more heartache, but hopefully they'll emerge a less bias paper.

It's still the best written paper in the country -- which says a lot -- considering it's obvious and frustrating flaws.

Pancho said...

acknowledging that "there are those who love to hate The Times"

I think that he has me all wrong! I don't hate the Times, just what they write.

Bruce Hayden said...


Maybe that is where they should be going. I doubt that anyone is going to be able to take the title of King of Crossword Puzzles away from them for a long time. Yes, they do provide a lot of good content - they are one of the premier newspapers of the day.

But I still contend that they are missing the point in all of this, which you seem to almost be giving them a pass for - which is that they do seriously slant some of the national news that they report to the left, and then it gets picked up by many of the other papers in the country. I routinely see their articles, word for word, with their headlines, in the Denver Post.

As long as they continue to do so, they are going to be under the microscope of the blogosphere. Any amount of window dressing isn't going to do them any good until they figure this out.