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Sunday, October 02, 2005

NYT Fesses Up, Finally, Sort Of

Gail Collins, editor at the NYT, has written a column explaining its new policy regarding Corrections on articles in op ed pieces.

This public change of policy comes after the hounding by bloggers, most notably Donald Luskin at Conspiracy To Keep You Poor and Stupid, who regularly show how “The Newspaper Of Record” consistently misstates facts, without correction. Collins explained that the NYT has adopted a more open correction policy so posterity will receive accurate reporting. She mentions the fear that an inaccuracy may be continued 50 years from now should a researcher rely on the NYT. Therefore, corrections will now be more “open and notorious” in a “For The Record” column of errata placed underneath the specific column being corrected.

What was not addressed by Ms. Collins is the true “Why?” of the exercise. Yes, if the NYT is “The Newspaper Of Record”, then future reference to it by researcher is likely and that demands accuracy. But what we critics of the paper are seeking is the admission that errors are consistently made to favor liberal causes and to disprove or portray negatively conservative policy.

It is no secret that the NYT star columnists Paul Krugman, Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd write columns pursuing policy from the left of center camp. They are smart, snide and witty. They make caustic arguments regularly against conservatives and President Bush in particular. All we ask is that when they use statistics and facts to bolster their arguments, such be correct. The blogosphere ensures today what had not been done for a century prior to the internet- uncorrected claims by “The Newspaper Of Record” would go unchallenged. Armed with the same numbers, reasonable minds may differ. Absent factually correct information that all can analyze, the reader will never know if the argument propounded is reasonable.

Collins never confesses that too many, some would cynically say an overwhelming majority, "errors" in reporting facts portray their political opponents negatively. Thus, they use their newspaper as an uneven playing field in their run to a public opinion touchdown. However, in a country with heavy partisanship, the arguments that quote the NYT must be accurate for their own credibility.

What am I really saying?

The marketplace of ideas that a free press assists in maintaining is the best protection for democracy and representative government. When a major, influential member of the press does not live up to its responsibility for reporting accurately, then the press has failed in its duty to the people. The press, then, cannot assume the people will continue its fealty to, not only the newspaper in question, but to the institution of journalism itself. And, in a country that had become open to qualifications upon freedoms and principles enounced in the Constitution, often seen, for instance, in NYT editorials favoring gun control, eminent domain use by governments and campaign finance regulation, a newspaper known for reporting inaccurate information can become a casualty.

1 Comments:

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