Wednesday, August 13, 2003
Recognizing your shortcomings: The Washington Post's Robert J. Samuelson examines the New York Times' response to the Jayson Blair scandal and finds it wanting:
The Blair affair was treated as a stand-alone mishap. Here is a culture of arrogance. The thread that connects the Blair scandal with the Times' other lapses is overconfidence -- a faith that it can't be "out-thought." If the Times were serious about self-examination, it would have assigned the task to outsiders. It is hard for insiders to be too critical of their organization for both psychological reasons (their assumptions may be part of the problem) and economic self-interest (they may censor themselves to protect their job).
The Times is a good and sometimes great paper. But it is not perfect or infallible. The humiliation it suffered from the Blair scandal did not produce much humility or learning. Until it's as tough on itself as it is on others, it will not deserve the "significance" now so often accorded it.
Don't expect the Times to take the criticism to heart.