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Times Public Editor Off To Fast Start

Clark Hoyt, the New York Times’ new public editor (ombudsman), is off to a fast start. Today, in “Tiptoeing Around the Family Business,” he asks the paper to cover the story of the NY Times Company’s failings as a business:

Amid all this turmoil, aggressively reported and analyzed in The Times, there has been a comparative silence in the paper about its own owners, their challenges and their strategy. From Arthur Sulzberger Jr. to Landon Thomas Jr., a business reporter who has been assigned stories about The Times, everyone acknowledges a fundamental truth: It’s hard to write about yourself.

It’s long overdue, true. And, as anyone who’s worked for a newspaper knows, it’s incredibly hard to cover one’s own employer.

But readers can get this news another way. They can read the competition, including the Wall Street Journal, which, Hoyt notes, has covered this story much better.

Maybe the conflict is just too difficult to manage in some respects. And maybe a reader would be wise to recognize that the Times may never do the full story.

One valuable service the Times could perform is to point to other media outlets’ coverage of the company. Newspapers rarely point to the competition, or at least they don’t do it enough. This is a situation that almost demands such links.

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