All the News That Fits
“Arthur Brisbane, the public editor of the New York Times, went to his readers with a question (1/12/12): ‘I’m looking for reader input on whether and when New York Times news reporters should challenge ‘facts’ that are asserted by newsmakers they write about.’
“Brisbane (who, as public editor, speaks only for himself, not the Times) referred to two recent stories: the claim that Clarence Thomas had ‘misunderstood’ a financial reporting form when he left out key information, and Mitt Romney’s assertion that President Obama gives speeches ‘apologising’ for America. Brisbane asked whether news reporters should have the freedom to investigate and respond to those comments.
“The reaction from readers was swift, voluminous, negative and incredulous.
“‘Is this a joke? THIS IS YOUR JOB.’
“‘If the purpose of the NYT is to be an inoffensive container for ad copy, then by all means continue to do nothing more than paraphrase those press releases.’
“‘I hope you can help me, Mr. Brisbane, because I’m an editor, currently unemployed: is fecklessness now a job requirement?’”
Editorial Comment: Motto: “All the News that Doesn’t Offend”? Well, as publishing mogul Lord Thompson observed, news copy is useful in a newspaper because it prevents advertisements from bumping up against one another.
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A tropical-looking December sunset over the U.S. Coast Guard station on the Samoa spit near the entrance to Humboldt Bay, Eureka, California.