23 February 2008

NYT as a classroom with McCain as the example

The McCain Article
Not precisely DC drama, but rather a discussion about a story about DC drama.

The article included reporting on Mr. McCain’s relationship with a female lobbyist whose clients often had business before the Senate committee led by Mr. McCain. Since publication of the article, The Times has received more than 2,000 comments, many of them criticizing the handling of the article. More than 4,000 questions were sent via e-mail to The Times on Thursday night and Friday. Editors and reporters who worked on the article answered some of the questions on Friday.

The journalists who worked on the article go on to tackle some of the questions that people raised. As they do that, they talk a bit about how a news paper is run and how journalists report on a story. When asked about the irony of the editorial page endorsing McCain while the news side was working on this story, their reply was this.

A. The short answer is that the news department of The Times and the editorial page are totally separate operations that do not consult or coordinate when it comes to news coverage and endorsements or other expressions of editorial opinion. We in the newsroom did not speak to anyone at the editorial page about the story we were working on about Senator McCain. They did not consult us about their deliberations over endorsements of the presidential candidates. I’m the political editor, and the first I knew of the McCain endorsement (and of the endorsement of Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side) was when I read them in the newspaper. In all of our internal discussions about the news story subsequent to the endorsement, I do not recall anyone bringing it up.

The fact that I already knew this isn't the interesting part. What interests me is that the paper took the time to sit down and explain this to the public. It felt like I was reading a journalism instructor patiently explaining things to a class. Answering these questions fully and carefully makes me respect the paper more than I already did.

On the internet, any wanker can pound out a bitchy letter about whatever is getting their panties in a twist. And more often than not, that bitchy letter is full of mistakes, in both logic and often grammar, and a fundamental misunderstanding of whatever it is thats pissing them off. Going through and addressing each problem is usually an exercise in futility, because even if you convince one person that they're wrong, there are hundreds more to take their place. So for the NYT to do this, and do it so well and so thoroughly is really classy. Sometimes I feel kind of bad for using the NYT for so many of the stories I comment on, but then they go and do something like this. This is why I read the NYT and this is why I don't feel bad about it.

Tomorrow I'll put up summaries of all the things I wanted to write about this week, but was too tired and busy to sit down and write. There were elections in Wisconsin and Pakistan, and how often do those things coincide?

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