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New York Times Surrenders?

By M. Wizard  Posted by M. Wizard (about the submitter)     Permalink
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Is there any real excuse for not including a link to his actual speech in this article? Is the Times afraid we may actually start drawing our own conclusions?
If we were afraid of that, we would not have been posting excerpts of his speech in real time on the City Room Blog.

We do not commonly print the entirety of politicians' speeches, even the president's. I am sure you could find a transcript somewhere if you look online.

best regards,
Nick Confessore
That is just the point I was making:  
 "If we were afraid of that, we would not have been posting excerpts of his speech in real time on the City Room Blog."
Why should the Times decide unilaterally what is significant and what is not for all of it's readers? It is, of course, necessary to run excerpts for the sake of general coverage. But I saw Gov. Paterson's speech in it's entirety, and (to me) the most interesting and important parts were edited out of the general coverage. This is generally the case, in my experience. But, again, in the Age of the Internet, it should be the duty of every news organization to provide a link to any speech or filmed news event- in it's entirety- in addition to it's own coverage. 
"We do not commonly print the entirety of politicians' speeches, even the president's."
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I know, and the only reason I can come up with is that the Times wants to reserve the right to edit and filter news in accordance which it's own narrow beliefs and interests, and therefore "define the agenda". The assumption that the NY Times itself should be the ultimate arbiter of what should be known and not known is patently absurd. It has absolutely no right to do so, from any moral or ethical standpoint, and continue to claim the right to call itself "objective" in any meaningful sense of the word.

Hey Richard,

I have no problem in principle with providing links to full texts and videos where practical. But I just don't agree with your broader premise. Taking to its logical conclusion, your argument is really an argument against newspapers, period. Why do newspapers exist if not as mechanisms to digest the news, root out the important and newsworthy parts, and then communicate that to readers in an easily readable form that makes clear to them (through story placement, headline size, and the like) what the newsworthy parts actually are?

You're right about one thing. If you want the raw material, you don't need a newspaper or television program or magazine. You can just go get it on the Web. But people use media outlets to help them steer through the clutter and guide them to what's important. That is why people go to the trouble to subscribe to a newspaper -- though, to be sure, fewer than in the past. They are, in a sense, buying our collective judgement as reporters and editors.

I don't think that judgement is infallible. It is something that deserves to be thought about and challenged by both reporters and readers like yourself, as you are doing right now. That feedback is helpful and necessary to my work and that of other reporters'.(I am curious to hear what you believe was important or crucial that we left out of our news story.) But ultimately and in key respects, what anyone is buying when they buy a particular newspaper is that newspaper's judgment on what stories are more important than other stories, and which are the most important parts of stories.

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If you don't respect or trust a particular newspaper's judgement, you don't have to buy that newspaper. I can only hope that, day to day, we prove more worthy of your trust than not. But we are not the ultimate arbiter of anything; we have no monopoly on the facts that are out there, only on what is printed in the Times.

That said, I think it's wrong to suggest that we are trying to hide something, or coerce readers into our view of the world, when we don't always provide the raw material of what we are covering.

best regards,
Nick Confessore

I simply don't believe one can claim to be reporting and editorializing simultaneously. I would also respectfully disagree with your basic premise. I believe people look to newspapers to report what is as close to the truth as possible (as hokey as that may sound),and not what has been distilled through the filters and lenses of editors-reporters-publishers-stockholders-owners-business communities-special interest groups, etc.

This, as I'm sure you are well aware, is what the main criticism of commercial journalism is (and what Jon Stewart was talking about on his famous "Crossfire" appearance). There are very few people left in this country (let alone the rest of the world) that are not quite cognizant of the fact that journalism companies are very aggressive and very competitive businesses themselves, which are constantly operating under unavoidable pressures to not offend a very sensitive business community (and government sources, etc.- in power, still, mostly due to business interests) on whom they depend for their very survival.

Forget about Gov. Paterson. How much coverage do publications such as yours give to the fact that over half of our tax dollars have been going to the Pentagon for decades, which maintains over 700 military bases around the world, and which has been overthrowing democratically elected governments all over the globe, almost continuously, since the end of WWII? Do your editors think that this would not be the No.1 story in America today if viewed truly objectively? How many column inches were given to the recent US kidnapping of Aristide in Haiti, and the overthrowing of that imperfect, but democratically elected administration (I believe he had over 70% of the vote)? How much coverage is given to the fact that our electoral process is almost completely corrupted by special interests?
I'll never forget when McCain/Feingold was passed and signed into law. The very next day there was a story in the middle of the front page of your paper detailing how many holes there were still in the bill, and the story was dropped altogether. Did the reporter writing the story not read the bill BEFORE it was passed? Afterwards, did your reporters and editors decide that allowing our elected officials to continue to be beholden to the highest contributor was no longer newsworthy? I don't think so. I believe they simply internalized the tacit will of the corporate environment in which they operate on a day to day basis. The bill, as it was (and continues to be) would help keep the government snugly in the hands of the 1% who continue to get richer every day, every year, every decade, while everyone else loses earning power, rights (check out what has happened to the labor laws in NY State over the passed few decades. Employees have the right to a lunch break and little else) and control over their own lives. I really do think these matters are far, far more important to the average American than what Apple's newest gadget is, or what Google is trading at, etc...
You can actually just look at the current coverage of Barack Obama for further proof. The media talks about "Change" without seriously reporting on the actual nature of that very change. Obama is where he is now, to a very great extent, because he is reflecting the disgust Americans have with the stranglehold moneyed interests inthis country have over their lives. But where is that reflected in the media coverage of this election? They quote "Change" as an empty slogan, vaguely referring to changing the country from where the Bush Administration has brought us, but without identifying where, why and how that happened, or whether Obama can really reverse this trend (which of course has been gathering steam for decades) if elected. Both of those issues are what should be seriously explored, discussed and addressed. But the "debate", which companies such as yours will continue to frame, revolves meaninglessly around "change", without defining what that change actually consists of. In other words, it is mere media "triangulation".
These are just a couple of egregious (to me) examples. But the important fact is that this principle is in effect daily, and determines what every aspect of the end product of the "news" is, year in and year out, far more than the sober, mature and supposedly impartial judgment of any individual person involved in the news reporting business. The central point of "The Insider" is still true: you have to decide if you are journalists or businessmen or even just the front line for the business community. And claiming to be the former, when in practice you are actually primarily the latter (with token gestures to the contrary, to make it all seem legitimate), is just another form of "triangulation". This is no conspiracy theory. As Prof. Chomsky says, it is simply "institutional analysis". This, of course, puts you folks in a near-impossible situation, I grant you. This vicious cycle also accounts (to a great extent) for the fact that polls measuring the credibility of news organizations such as yours are about 10 points below even Mr. Bush's current approval ratings.
 But it seems that history is forcing the problem to a head, with the spread of "disinterested' news sources, and a rising awareness of how things actually work with regard to media/business/politics. While I believe it is disingenuous, irresponsible, and downright self-destructive on your part to say "oh if you don't like newspapers, then don't read them", that does seem to be the direction the world is going in. But at the moment genuinely independent news sources cannot truly compete with traditional media companies in terms of organization, resources manpower, etc. But I think they will eventually get there. Where, when and how this will happen, I am not really sure.
 Once again, I believe the job of reporters should be to report, not edit, whenever possible. And supplying links to actual news events would be a great start. If you're really sincere about being journalists, and not businessmen.
Thanks for letting me vent. 
Hey Richard,

I am a little too crammed to take all of this on, but thanks for corresponding with me, and for caring enough about the news (and newspapers) to do so.

best regards,
Nick Confessore
I'm left wondering if the New York Times simply surrendered, or became bored.


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