July 31, 2003

Going Public at the Times

By now you all know the New York Times has embraced the recommendation of the newspaper's Siegal Committee, which followed the curse of Jayson Blair upriver in search of the heart of darkness that birthed him, and decided to name two new editors: A public editor (an ombudsman) to connect with readers and a standards editor to, as the Washington Post said, "serve as an internal ethics czar." [ Read the Siegal Committee report. ]

Romenesko has rounded up all the usual links, but I've read the stories so you don't have to. Some highlights:

 Washington Post: "Geneva Overholser, former editor of the Des Moines Register and a one-time ombudsman at The Post (said), "It's an acknowledgement of fallibility, which comes hard to the Times. The editor should hear from readers.' But editors don't have the time or perspective and want to justify the decisions they made."

 Wall Street Journal: Quotes Bob Steele of Poynter saying the report was "a key moment in American journalism." (Thanks to Jeff Jarvis, who says being the Times' public editor "has to be the worst job in journalism.")

 USA Today: Gina Lubrano, readers' rep at the Union Tribune in San Diego and secretary of the Organization of Newspaper Ombudsmen: ''Editors are too busy to respond to their readers. I have a feeling that if someone called the editor of The New York Times, they probably wouldn't get to talk to him. I know how busy my editor is -- she's always at meetings."

 New York Post: Reports snarkily that some proposals of the Siegal report "are already being lampooned, such as the one that urges the Times to make 'courtesy and respect explicit criteria sought in job candidates.' It backs up that assertion by quoting one anonymous "insider": "The idea that somehow civility and courtesy are going to be criteria for advancement at the New York Times is pretty hysterical. There is a culture of rudeness in here, and getting rid of it has to be done by more than just decrees from on high."

 Boston Globe: Quotes committee chairman Allan Siegal, a Times assistant managing editor: " 'We all believed the truism that journalists don't like to be managed.' But in conducting its investigation, Siegal said, the committee was 'surprised by the demands of the staff . . . a uniform demand for more systematic and transparent management.'"

Posted by Tim Porter at July 31, 2003 11:06 AM

My favorite recommendation was the one in which employees start getting annual performance reviews.

START getting them.

Jesus wept.

Posted by: Lex on August 1, 2003 06:36 AM
Post a comment