Monday, May 09, 2005

There's a Mote in Your Eye

Now isn't this rich? The day after Adam Cohen of the New York Times criticizes bloggers for lax journalistic standards, Katharine Seelye announces that an "internal committee" at the Times has come up with a list of suggested reforms at the Gray Lady to address their reader trust problem.

The committee, which was charged last fall by Bill Keller, the executive editor, with examining how the paper could increase readers' trust, said there was "an immense amount that we can do to improve our journalism."

As examples, the report cited limiting anonymous sources, reducing factual errors and making a clearer distinction between news and opinion. 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.
Seems like the blogosphere might have something to teach the Paper of Record. Like the ability to easily contact the people who write and edit the articles, for example.

"The Times makes it harder than any other major American newspaper for readers to reach a responsible human being," the report said.
Hey, with a blog all you have to do is click on the e-mail link or post a comment. You always know who's writing the article and how to reach him or her.

And -- get this -- one of the committee's recommendations was for the Times
to create a -- are you sitting down? -- a blog to facilitate easier and more intimate communication between Times staffers and readers. Thank you, guys. We appreciate the compliment.

In fact, at the risk of looking like I'm fishing for more compliments, I'll ask this: Could at least part of the reason for the surging popularity of blogs be just that sense of freshness, immediacy, and accountability that results from knowing exactly what a blogger's point of view is, where the information comes from, and how the reporter can be contacted with questions or comments? Could the public disenchantment with the MSM partially explain why blogs have become so ragingly attractive? And although saying this might make me sound like a capitalist, is it possible that the competitive pressure the New York Times and other major news sources have been feeling lately from the world of blogs might explain some of the felt need to "reform" their journalistic procedures -- and perhaps might also explain the animus major media pundits have been directing our way?

Just some thoughts.

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