Skip to comments.N.Y. Times to Bring in Three New Editors (NYT gave faker journo Blair merit raise)
Posted on 07/30/2003 4:50:25 PM PDT by Liz
NEW YORK (AP) - After an 11-week internal investigation of the Jayson Blair scandal, The New York Times said Wednesday it will create the first ombudsman's position in its 152-year history and re-examine the newspaper's policies on datelines, bylines and anonymous sources.
The ombudsman, to be known at the Times as "public editor," will examine coverage, review reader complaints and write a periodic column in the newspaper, Executive Editor Bill Keller said Wednesday, his first day on the job.
In addition, the paper will create two masthead-level jobs for a "standards editor" and an editor to oversee hiring and career development.
The measures come in response to a 94-page report prepared by a committee convened after the Blair debacle. The report, which included a separate section on Blair, "closes a chapter" at the paper, said Allan M. Siegal, Times assistant managing editor and head of the 28-member committee.
"We think it's our final word," he said in an interview. Siegal's committee was assembled after it was revealed that the Times had published three dozen stories by Blair that were plagiarized, inaccurate or otherwise false.
The scandal exposed a discontented staff that had lost confidence in newsroom leadership. The fallout led to the resignations of Executive Editor Howell Raines and Managing Editor Gerald Boyd in June.
Keller announced Wednesday that he was adopting some of the Siegal committee's recommendations immediately, and is pursuing several others.
"The shock to our system - to its morale and reputation - has created an important opportunity. Most important, it has created a consensus for change," Keller said in a memo to the staff. All three new jobs should be "refined and filled within the coming weeks," he said.
In its report, the committee acknowledged that concerns over diversity may have helped Blair, who is black, advance at the Times, but emphasized that the paper should not turn away from its commitment to a diverse newsroom.
The report found that the "real culprits" in the Blair scandal were "deeply flawed structures, attitudes and processes." In particular, the committee cited a "failure to communicate" among editors and said that "in the New York Times newsroom, silos had replaced sharing."
Keller said the Times would also pursue committee recommendations that the newspaper standardize its policy on anonymous sources, create an annual performance review for its workers and impose more coherent byline policies and enforcement of dateline policies.
Blair based one account of the Washington-area sniper shootings on anonymous sources; his editors did not know their identities.
Pulitzer Prize winner Rick Bragg resigned from the Times in May after relying extensively on the reporting of a stringer for a feature story on Florida oystermen. The story carried only his byline.
Keller acknowledged that the Times had traditionally opposed hiring an ombudsman over fears of internal "nit-picking and navel-gazing." But he agreed to try the position for a one-year term, then determine if it should be kept.
Nationwide, 38 newspapers have editors that belong to the Organization of News Ombudsmen, said the group's executive secretary, Gina Lubrano.
"They're still a great newspaper," Lubrano said, "and I think this shows their willingness to listen to readers."
The standards editor will help staff "on matters of accuracy and ethics," Keller said.
One portion of the report - prepared by three outside journalists - dealt only with Blair, detailing six "choke points" in his Times career - "moments when the looming disaster could have been cut short," according to the report.
"These signs, so clear in hindsight, were not seen or heeded," it said.
The points ranged from the failure to discover Blair had no college degree to his promotion as part of the Times' coverage of the Washington sniper case.
"This was an invitation to disaster," the report said of the promotion. "The invitation was accepted."
During the time he was fabricating stories from October 2002 through April 2003, Blair was actually given a merit raise, the report found. Blair, 27, resigned from the paper May 1.
"Behind the Blair story lay a misguided pattern of tough supervision and lenient forgiveness that led to retaining him, and in fact promoting him, when at several points he was demonstrating that he was not ready to join the staff of The New York Times," the report said.
The three outside analysts who joined Times staffers on the committee were former Associated Press President and CEO Louis D. Boccardi; Joann Byrd, outgoing Seattle Post-Intelligencer editorial page editor; and Roger Wilkins, a former Times columnist and editorial board member.
On the Net: www.nycto.com
Balderdash. Liberals can't think themselves out of a paper bag when they are on a PC high.
PC'ness is like a drug to them, the way self-loathing liberals can feel good about themselves.
NYT liberals were so full of "tolerance and compassion" watching Blair trod the halls
of the pure-white Times, that they couldn't recognize wrongdoing when it hit 'em in the face.
Here is a good opportunity to get input from Al Sharpton, Harry Belafonte and some of the other great black thinkers of the age. We don't need more aging white lefties. If the NYT is ever to catch up to the National Enquirer, it must improve its diversity statistics!
The New York Times is JUST NOW hiring an ombudsman?!
What unbelievable hubris we have had to endure all these years.
LOL. And how 'bout Maxine, and Kweisi? And da Rev Jessuh?
Man, they'll have the NYT running up to snuff in no time. LOL.
For professional wordsmiths, these people really do say some stupid sh*t.
Some men you just can't reach. . .what we've got here is failure to communicate.
I think I heard Fox News announce that Bob Hope's NYT obit was written by someone who has been deceased for two years now. Pretty much cutting edge reporting...