The deadliest sin

The Times' blind eye
By ADAM REILLY  |  March 14, 2007

In the March 11 Sunday New York Times, public editor Byron Calame upbraided his paper for waiting six days to acknowledge the Post’s Walter Reed exposé. Calame also noted that, in 2006, the Times took two months to acknowledge Time magazine’s report that Iraqi civilians had been massacred by US soldiers in Haditha, even refusing to run a 1200-word Associated Press follow-up. “Excessive pride, I believe, is the fundamental problem,” Calame wrote. “The desire to be first with the news still permeates the newsroom at the the Times and other newspapers.”

If Calame can change the Times’ habits in this regard, he’ll deserve a medal. “The Times has been so dominant in so many ways that the idea is, ‘It’s not news unless it’s in the Times,’ ” says Bob Phelps, a former editor of the Times’ Washington, DC, bureau. “What they’ve got to realize is that for many years now — certainly since Watergate, but even before that — the threat posed by the Times as a national paper has been so great that other papers have improved . . . the Times is going to get beat on some stories, and in a sense it’s responsible for its own predicament.”

Victor Navasky, the publisher emeritus of the Nation, recalls one instance when a Nation reporter, poised to publish a scoop, brokered a deal: the Times could write a story based on his work as long as the Nation was credited. When the Times story ran, however, the Nation wasn’t mentioned. Navasky wrote a private letter of complaint to the Times. The editor who responded agreed that the Nation had been wronged, but added that it was a moot point now — and that the Times reporter had added new information to the story. “It’s this kind of institutional false-pride factor that shouldn’t be operative anymore,” says Navasky.




Related: Lapdog, meet watchdog, Your ombuddy, Preaching to the choir, More more >
  Topics: Media -- Dont Quote Me , Walter Reed, Byron Calame, Victor Navasky,  More more >
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