Skip to comments.Should Conservatives Give The New York Times a Break?
Posted on 08/06/2005 2:11:28 PM PDT by wagglebee
Thanks to a virtual blackout by his fellow editors elsewhere in the media, odds are good that you havent heard or read that Executive Editor Bill Keller of The New York Times recently capitulated in the debate over bias in Americas newspaper of record.
Kellers capitulation came in a lengthy memo he distributed in the Times newsroom in May as a response to an updating of a massive report by a committee appointed in the wake of the Jayson Blair scandal to recommend measures to restore the gray ladys credibility.
In a section of the memo headed The News/Opinion Divide, Keller conceded that "even sophisticated readers of The New York Times sometimes find it hard to distinguish between news coverage and commentary in our pages." The Times will always carry both news and opinion, but, Keller argued, we should make the distinction as clear as possible.
Think about those statements for a moment. Here we have the top man in the newsroom at the nations most important daily the newspaper that more than any other sets the mainstream print and broadcast medias agenda essentially conceding what countless critics have argued for years. Thus we see a storied institution admitting its need to rededicate itself to achieving a standard previously claimed as the daily norm of performance.
Not only that, but Keller also conceded one of the major problems facing the Times in the aftermath of the Blair scandal is the cultural isolation that marks the papers newsroom. To counter that isolation, Keller encouraged his colleagues to undertake "a concerted effort to stretch beyond our predominantly urban, culturally liberal orientation, to cover the full range of our national conversation."
To drive the point home, Keller also noted that "our news coverage needs to embrace unorthodox views and contrarian opinions and to portray lives both more radical and more conservative than those most of us experience. We need to listen carefully to colleagues who are at home in realms that are not familiar to most of us."
Again, think about those words. Critics have charged for years that the Times newsroom is out of step with the majority of the country because the editorial staff represents but a small atypical slice of American demographics and opinion. That narrowness in turn has handicapped the dailys ability to identify, assess and credibly report much of the news deemed important by the rest of the nation. Now Keller says its time for the newsroom to get in touch with the rest of America.
A significant part of the effort to reach out to the rest of the nation concerns the Times ability to understand the one-third of Americans who identify themselves as religious conservatives (i.e. evangelicals and fundamentalists of all stripes, plus conservative Catholics and Orthodox Jews).
To that end, Keller encouraged the daily newsroom staff to listen to colleagues working on the Times magazine for lessons about portraying religious conservatives in an interesting and three-dimensional way. He also warned about the misuse of [the phrase] religious fundamentalists to describe religious conservatives.
Perhaps Keller would be willing to host an internal editorial seminar featuring Christian journalists like David Neff of Christianity Today, Christian philosophers like Nancy Pearcey and Christian bloggers like Joe Carter of Evangelical Outpost to explain the lay of the religious conservative land?
So how should long-suffering critics of the Times react to Kellers words and actions? Much of the commentary on the Right side of the Blogosphere has been rather predictably negative, snarky or sarcastic, or some combination thereof. I believe that approach is mistaken.
How about instead we offer Keller encouragement and praise for fessing up to serious problems of longstanding and for putting his own career and prestige on the line in making the effort to deal with those problems in a systematic and reasonable way?
It wouldnt hurt, either, for Times critics on the Right to show some patience because changing an entrenched culture like that of a newsroom isnt going to happen overnight, nor will it occur without some unexpectedly abbreviated careers and a surplus of discontent bred by an inability or refusal to change.
There will certainly be times when Keller and his newsroom allies will wonder if its really worth the effort. A good word from those who have been on the outside critically looking in may be the difference between throwing in the towel and fighting the good fight another day. I say give the man a break. And some encouragement.
I think you will like the one I wrote. Stay tuned.
Does anyone know how much circulation the NYT has lost over the past few years?
"Keller encouraged his colleagues to undertake "a concerted effort to stretch beyond our predominantly urban, culturally liberal orientation, to cover the full range of our national conversation."
Bottom line: We're losing money and need to appeal to conservative readership.
Wake up, Washington Post, you're next!
"Both legs and a shoulder should do nicely."
LOL! We can give 'em a break AFTER they change their ways.
And the we'll move the goal post.
If he had any guts, and was committed to changing the paper, he would fire 1/2 the editorial staff and start all over.
Using the same pukes will accomplish nothing.
heck with giving them 1/2 the editorial page. Give them 1/2 of the jobs as EDITORS.
I love this
Judith Miller is going to give the NYT the "break" it justly deserves. Shine the light on the dark places, and life renews...
What's the point?
One year ago and NO constructive changes after Ombudsman Okrent admitted that the NY Times was Liberal we get another admission. So what. Action not talk.
"Is the NY Times a Liberal Newspaper?
OF course it is."
I still want to know who the hell Miller is "protecting." Because I have a feeling that if revealed it will completely destroy the left's whole "destroy Karl Rove at any cost" campaign.
No, we should give it a brick.
I'll wait until the NYT recognizes that it is on a Jihad against Bush and decides that Jihad is NOT the answer.
She'll spill the beans soon- and when Judith gives up the key, the rat & cockroach scramble rodeo, will be a sight to see...
The NYT can't even do that right. They should know they have to go to Hillary Clinton for stuff like that. That's one of the things a personal secret police force is good at.
Agree totally with your thoughts.
"may be the difference between throwing in the towel and fighting the good fight another day. I say give the man a break. And some encouragement"...
I say, 'Let 'em crash and burn"! lol
You mean actions like hiring lawyers to try to unseal the adoption records of John Roberts' four and five-year-old children, so the Times' staff DNC hacks can tear them to pieces looking for any dirt they can find to sink his nomination? Sure sounds like Keller's trying real hard to "change the culture" there all right! </s>
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