A comment from New York Times Standards Editor Phil Corbett struck me in an email this week:
I hope you don’t despair of The Times as a whole.
I don’t despair. But I’m troubled by some things I see at the Times, and I do blog critically occasionally about journalism’s most important newsroom.
That’s not just my opinion that the Times is journalism’s most important newsroom. Our Path Forward, an 11-page strategy document published Wednesday, makes clear that the Times regards itself as the pinnacle of journalism, not just in the United States, but in the world.
I had written most of this post before reading Our Path Forward, and briefly pondered blogging first about that document. But my plate is too full right now, and I’m just going to acknowledge it here and dig into it in more depth later, maybe next week. But the opening paragraph of the document explains why the Times warrants the scrutiny of everyone interested in journalism:
From our earliest days, The New York Times has committed itself to the idea that investing in the best journalism would ensure the loyalty of a large and discerning audience, which in turn would drive the revenue needed to support our ambitions. This virtuous circle reinforced itself for over 150 years.
Another Times editor suggested earlier this year that I was singling the Times out for criticism. That suggestion came in a private email, so I won’t quote it or name the editor here, but some of this post was edited from one of my messages in that exchange. After reading Corbett’s comment, I thought I should elaborate on my view of the Times and its place in journalism and why I blog about it frequently.
No organization enjoys a loftier perch in journalism than the Times, or is watched more closely for its business strategy. Those facts demand that I comment on it more frequently than any other news organization. If you boast that you’re producing “the best journalism,” you invite scrutiny and I’m happy to oblige.
Most of my criticism of the Times comes in the context of topics I address frequently, targeting a variety of news organizations: (more…)