December 20, 2002

Why Newspapers Exist

Eric Alterman, the media columnist for the Nation, challenges the contention that the New York Times has over-covered the controversy of the Augusta National Golf Club's men-only admission policy.

As of Dec. 3, says Alterman, the Times published 33 stories on the issue, causing conservative pundits and some competing journalists to complain that the Times, guided by editor Howell Raines, has an unhealthy obsession with Augusta. Alterman responds:

"The anger, moreover, is curious because Times coverage has hardly been out of whack with the rest of the nation's newspapers. As of December 3 it had published four fewer stories than the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's thirty-seven, where Augusta is a local story, and just slightly more than the Los Angeles Times (twenty-seven pieces), USA Today (twenty-four) and the Washington Post (twenty-two)."

And, if the Times was alone in its coverage, does it matter? asks Alterman, providing a cogent answer to the current question of newspaper relevancy.

"I am of the opinion that newspaper editors have the right to crusade against whatever and whomever they choose, so long as they observe the basic rules of fairness to their readers and their subjects. That's one reason we have them."

Yes it is.

 Eric Alterman The Nation

Posted by Tim Porter at December 20, 2002 06:10 AM