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NYT is Getting Good Again

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To: Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times
From: A news junkie/former newspaper reporter
Re: Improvements

I have been pretty critical of The New York Times since I started writing this media analysis column.

In “Adapt or Be Left Behind”, I criticized your newspaper for its inept handling of the Internet age, and cited The Washington Post as an example of a model you should follow.

And, as with many others, I was – and still am – disturbed by how badly your newspaper handled its Judith Miller coverage. When a newspaper repeatedly gets scooped on stories involving its own reporter, there is something very wrong.

For that, and other reasons, I regretfully agreed with PressThink author Jay Rosen that the Washington Post has replaced the New York Times as the nation’s best newspaper.

But I want to give praise where credit is due and the Times has been doing a bang-up job lately, especially since I last wrote you, on Oct. 22, after you wrote your memo to staff about Miller.

For the last few days, the Times has had better overall coverage of world and national news, especially on the Valerie Plame case, than the Washington Post and other media.

Sure, it’s made some recent mistakes, including how it selectively quoted a soldier’s diary, as conservative blogger Michelle Malkin has noted. The New York Post even blasted the Times in an editorial on the issue.

And yes, I’d love for you to fire Miller since it is increasingly clear she was more of a propagandist than a reporter and, as your own memo makes clear, not being honest with her own bosses.

But now your newspaper is at the front of the pack at breaking new stories about Lewis Libby’s indictment problems, how Karl Rove’s days appear to be numbered, and related issues.

I am hoping you will keep up the good work.

Now just tear down this stupid TimesSelect wall and I’ll truly be happy with you again

Your Constant Reader
Scott Butki
P.S. Your newspaper would be wise to read two guest authored pieces at PressThink.
First, Ron Brynaert questions why the Times was so slow in determining and learning where it went wrong on the Wen Ho Lee case. Maybe the mistakes with Jayson Blair’s plagarism and Judith Miller’s fiction writing about the war could have been avoided.
This week, Jenny D- a fellow reporter-turned-educator – writes about an interview with the Society of Professional Journalists’ former president where the blogger questions what the group was thinking when it gave a First Amendment award recently to Judith Miller.
It’s a great piece with much food for thought.

Ed: JA

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About Scott Butki

Scott Butki was a newspaper reporter for more than 10 years before making a career change into education... then into special education. He has been doing special education work for about five years He lives in Austin. He reads at least 50 books a year and has about 15 author interviews each year and, yes, unlike tv hosts he actually reads each one. He is an in-house media critic, a recovering Tetris addict and a proud uncle. He has written articles on practically all topics from zoos to apples and almost everything in between.
  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    It’s a great piece with much food for thought.

    Sorry, I’m putting my orignality into writing a NaNoWriMo novel.

    – Temple

  • http://www.scoopstories.typepad.com Scott Butki

    Thanks a lot, Temple. Good luck with that project.

  • Scott Butki

    I give Keller a Christmas present of sorts I in a
    Christmas media column I wrote for Blog Critics.