(** Note: I updated this story here)
To: Bill Keller, The New York Times Executive Editor
From: A Former Reporter/Current News Junkie
Re: A Good Start
It was with great interest that I read the memo to your staff.
It’s a good start and an admirable, soul-searching piece.
This is progress, but you still have a long ways to go to get the Times credibility back.
Your memo doesn’t answer many of the lingering questions, but I think you know that. Here are some of the questions I’ve asked about the situation.
You, the other editors and Judith Miller should answer the questions listed at this Nieman Watchdog site.
Meanwhile, Jay Rosen details, in a Press Think piece how he not only has concerns about how the Times is handling the issue but seems to be getting the run-around from its spokeswoman. This is bad public relations in addition to being just all around unhelpful. As always he raises good questions that should be answered.
Count me among those who believe the credibility of the New York Times – and all of its reporters – is on the line. As Rosen notes it seems like the more we hear from Miller, the more confusing this issue becomes.
In last Sunday’s piece, for example, Miller alluded to having security clearance to see classified documents. This brings up a whole host of ethical problems from Miller being beholden to the government to her – as she herself writes – being unable to share some information with her own editors.
Your memo hits on some of the important points about what should have been done differently. It also touches on a point which must be a great source of frustration for your reporters – how often you are getting scooped on stories about your own newspaper reporter. It doesn’t offer a solution, though.
The sooner you deal with this, the sooner you can resolve morale problems at the newspaper.
Oh and before I let you go, let me direct your attention to a piece I did comparing the Times handling of the Internet age with that of the Washington Post.
While I still think TimesSelect is stupid and short-sighted I was pleased to see you are now running an aggregate of bloggers writing about the paper and Miller. That could not have been an easy choice.z M
But I’m with Jeff Jarvis of Buzz Machine in asking for you to include some original voices too.
Speaking of the Web, as I write this the blogs are abuzz over what it means that Fitzgerald, the prosecutor, has launched his own Internet site.
Good luck in the months ahead.
Your constant reader