Friday, July 30, 2004
Okrent fallout: I've been keeping a close watch on Jim Romenesko's Letters page over at Poynter Online to see what sort of reception New York Times public editor Daniel Okrent's admission that the Times is a liberal newspaper received from professional journalists.
Surprisingly, the answer is: "Not much."
In the four days since Okrent's column appeared, only one letter-writer has taken issue with Okrent.
Where Okrent should go to see what liberal is
7/27/2004 2:52:46 PM
From CHRIS SIMMONS: So the paper that gave us the journalistic equivalent of a "slam dunk" on the weapons of mass destruction is liberal, I read. Interesting. If Daniel Okrent thinks the New York Times is liberal, he should check out alternet.org from time to time. The Times might be liberal in the classic definition -- tolerant and broad-minded -- but it certainly isn't left-wing, which is what I suppose Okrent meant. It's as much a part of the American establishment as General Motors, the Supreme Court or Disney. I read the Times and Washington Post to get a clear, balanced picture on issues. If I want less cautious reporting, I go to sites such as alternet -- and take their stories with a much bigger grain of salt than I do articles in the New York Times. (I'm speaking strictly of news stories, of course, not lifestyle or opinion pieces.)
On gay marriage, Okrent indirectly suggests that NYT reporters began their assignments with a biased point of view -- that they wanted to portray same-sex marriage in a positive light and interviewed people who would support their theme. I doubt that. Most reporters, I think, go where the story leads. If the article on the children of gay parents had found that many were scarred by the experience, I'm sure that would have been the tone of the story. Fifty years ago, I suppose, Okrent would have wanted the Times to search out stories on how the intermingling of races would adversely affect small-town life in the rural South. Now, that would be biased reporting.
Of course, just because the Times is to the right of Alternet doesn't mean that it isn't liberal.
Maybe the relative silence is a good thing. Maybe journalists are finally beginning to get comfortable with the idea that it's not necessarily a bad thing to admit your biases and where you're coming from. It'd be much better than the continuing (lame) denials that biases are expugned from reporting before it appears on the printed page or goes over the airwaves.