May 31, 2003

New National Post Column --...

New National Post Column -- Why the New York Times Scandals Are Good for Journalism: Including swipes at Michael Kinsley, notes about blogging, and quotes from Amy Langfield's site. (But isn't that unethical? -- ed. Yes! It's unethical that more people don't quote her instead of Tom Rosenstiel.)

Posted by at May 31, 2003 12:03 PM

What's unethical about quoting Amy Langfield?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 31, 2003 07:01 PM

She's been a dear pal and co-conspirator of mine for going on 15 years. Single-handedly ran LA Examiner for months and months.

Posted by: Matt Welch at May 31, 2003 07:03 PM

And in the spirit of fessing up -- I did all my LAExaminer work from New York. But at least I have strong California bloodlines. ... And Matt, thanks for using my stuff. Very nice of you. Coincidentally, we were at one of the Jayson Blair bars last night and I learned some of the staff there feel very betrayed by him on a personal level.

Posted by: Amy Langfield at May 31, 2003 08:34 PM

Uh, what would you expect? Of course they feel betrayed. Most don't make up stuff and they tend to have high personal standards for ethics and accuracy. You've worked in newspapers and presumably know some NYT types. They can be egotistical jerks, yes, but they're also notoriously driven hard workers. Other than Blair himself, and possibly Raines, whose reputations have suffered most in all of this? The New York Times writers who don't cheat. Imagine how unpleasant it must be to make reporting calls these days and introduce yourself as from the NYT.

Posted by: Roderick at May 31, 2003 11:20 PM

"Why are journalists so glum? Because The New York Times is their gold standard. It's the paper they all want to work for and, in the meantime, emulate."

Journalists are really glum because they are like the typesetters of thirty years or so ago who became obsolete when the little desk top computer replaced their overpriced services for camera ready type. Invested in expensive machines and educations, typesetters railed about; the jagged edges of computer generated type, the atrocious leading and kerning, and the lack of 'professionalism' of it all. All to no avail, like the dinosaur they are a part of history. Typesetting standards remain, but anyone can now create, with greater flair, an endless variety of type that never needs to even see a camera, all without a $50,000 'Varityper'.
The Times (mainstream media) is on the ropes, and journalists are glum, because the "meritocratic country of 276 million weirdos", with their desktop 'newspapers' -- anytime editions -- is on the Times.
This is a good thing -- it is this expensive 'professional' protectionism we don't need.
You said it well with this;

"Luckily for everyone, the World Wide Web has enabled consumers these days to have an unprecedented ability to consume, debate and, most importantly, repackage their own news, from nearly infinite sources across the globe.

Posted by: Warren Celli at June 1, 2003 07:37 AM

Hi Roderick -- the personal betrayal I was referring to above was that felt by the bar staff at one of Blair's watering holes, not the NYT staffers.

Posted by: Amy Langfield at June 1, 2003 09:24 AM

Never mind then :) Read it too fast...

Posted by: Roderick at June 1, 2003 09:49 AM

Warren -- *I* was a typesetter, for two years. During one of which my boss was ... Amy Langfield!

Posted by: Matt Welch at June 1, 2003 12:16 PM

Some very worthwhile reading (as always) from from the latest edition of The New Criterion, from the editors' Notes and Comments section:

The larger issue concerns the ingrained ideological bias of which affirmative action and the cult of diversity are merely currently fashionable expressions. The Times grandly announced that Jayson Blair’s behavior represented “a low point in the 152-year history of the newspaper.” Hardly. The Blair Affair, depressing though it is, pales in comparison with many other items from the paper’s history. Consider the career of the Pulitzer-Prize-winner Walter Duranty. Duranty, who was head of the Times’s Moscow bureau in the 1930s, was an apologist for Stalin. Accordingly, he assured readers that, though there were some occasional food shortages, there was “no actual starvation” in the Ukraine [!!]. This was in the midst of what Robert Conquest has called the Great Famine, the Stalin-made horror in which millions were systematically starved. Or consider Herbert Matthews, another communist fellow traveler, whose forty-five-year career at the Times included dutiful misreporting from the Spanish Civil War and, later, writing such fulsome encomia about Castro that one wag portrayed the dictator with a sign saying “I got my job through The New York Times.” The truth is that the Times, despite its enormous reputation, is constitutionally disposed to embrace the current politically correct line whatever it is — on race, on international affairs, on culture, on politics. In 1966, The New York Tribune went out of business, leaving the Times essentially without competition. It is said when news of the Trib’s demise came, several long-time editors at the Times broke down in tears. They saw that the death of one paper would encourage the intellectual corruption of the other. How right they were.
Posted by: Robert Light at June 2, 2003 05:22 AM
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