Sunday, September 11, 2005

NYTimes is a great newspaper

Here is why.

Poverty so pervasive that it hampered evacuation [in New Orleans] would seem to have been worthy of The Times's attention before it emerged as a pivotal challenge two weeks ago. And the inadequacies of the levee system deserved to be brought to the attention of readers more clearly long before the storm hit. [Emphasis added]

Yet a look back over the past 10 years of Times coverage of New Orleans in its news columns raises serious questions about how well the paper helped readers recognize and understand these two major problems that have compounded the devastation and tragedy of the storm.

This is the verdict of Byron Calame, NYTimes' public editor. Sure, the newspaper did not do the things pointed out by Calame, but it is asking the right questions.


  1. Anonymous said...

    I have to disagree. There is nothing worse than the idea that public confession absolves an institution of its past sins. I would only be impressed if there was any indication that the Times would actually begin to take a serious interest in the country's poor people.

  2. Abi said...

    Thanks, Kerim, for dropping by! From the other side of the globe, it certainly appears that the folks at NYTimes are trying hard to do justice to their profession; this public confession is another indication of their efforts. Of course, my benchmark is how the Indian newspapers conduct themselves. Among our newspapers, the Hindu is quite exemplary in covering -- with sensitivity -- poverty and its sad consequences.

    I certainly don't know of other mainstream national newspapers in the US which do a better job than the Times in taking "a serious interest in the country's poor people". Do please correct me if I am wrong.

    PS: It turns out that your comment was posted while I was re-editing my post to tone down my praise for the NYTimes!

  3. Anonymous said...

    When I was in India I was shocked at how "tabloid" most of the papers had become - even the Hindu, although it still seemed much better than the rest. So I understand what you are saying.

    Having a "public editor" is not unique to the Times. I like this one much better than the previous one who was widely criticized. Other papers have been doing this for longer. The public editor is free to say what he or she likes, which is great, but they don't necessarily have much of an impact on the actual editorial decisions that get made.

    The LA Times and the Washington Post are both good papers that have done some excellent reporting in recent years. The Boston Globe isn't bad either. Even the Wall Street Journal, whose editorial board are fascists, have very independent and excellent jouralists who've broken important stories that the editorial board must hate.

    The NY Times is huge, so the often have one or two good stories a day, but as a New Yorker, I've grown increasingly disappointed with them. Judith Miller's irresponsible reporting during the build up to the war in Iraq was a real low point.

  4. Anonymous said...

    Judith Miller did it for me too. I stopped my subscription when the infamous "Silver Bullet" news article from Miller came out.