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NY Times and MoveOn Ad: Violation of Policy

Clark Hoyt (NY Times Public Editor): Betraying Its Own Best Interests.

I think the ad violated The Times’s own written standards, and the paper now says that the advertiser got a price break it was not entitled to.

So, the paper may well have cut MoveOn a special deal (though if you read Hoyt’s piece there’s still some confusion about this). And whether the juvenile “Betray Us” language was a violation of other Times policies is less important than the fact that the paper misled people for a week about what had actually happened.

One notable lapse, in addition: When I looked at the Times home page today I didn’t find any reference to Hoyt’s piece. It should have been flagged on the home page, because this is a case where transparency would best be more prominent. A small, unchanging link to the public-editor page is insufficient.

(Note: I own a small amount of NY Times Co. stock.)

2 Comments on “NY Times and MoveOn Ad: Violation of Policy”

  1. #1 Jon Garfunkel
    on Sep 23rd, 2007 at 9:42 am

    Dan– Thanks for flagging this. The Times today somehow neglected to deliver the news sections to me and instead delivered a second batch of culture sections. Whoops.

    On the website today, Hoyt’s article is linked off of the opinion page.

    Let’s give a shout-out here to Robert Cox, who on the road to starting the Media Bloggers Alliance, successfully convinced the Times that columnists should put corrections to their own pieces at the bottom of their columns (some of Bob’s original pages detailing this have been removed from the Internet, to the best that I can determine.)

    Mark Glaser had taken note of the corrections beat in a 2003 article for OJR:

    “A redesign is slowly being implemented on, [Len] Apcar said, and the cluttered home page might even go on a diet of sorts. Hopefully, the staff contacts and corrections page will become an even more prominent and powerful feature, so readers can feel more connected to a news process that has shut them out in the past.”

    Also, this point: “However, as part of a redesign to accommodate new half-page ads, there is now a link at the bottom of almost every page going to the corrections page.”

    Sure, there’s a link there. But there’s no “See Me!” icon like the familiar orange RSS block. And when you get to the corrections page, it only lists today’s corrections. And Hoyt’s article is not included as a “correction” but clearly it is a needed clarification. And there is no searchable database, as the Siegal report called for in 2005. And there’s no transparency– certainly, as you hint above, the Times ought to have let on from the time that the NY Post reported the apparent favoritism.

    Sure, there *is* a Public Editor “weblog.” But the weblog format is not exactly what we want here. We want more of a “workflow tracker” (my colleagues in the BPM software industry have yet to come up with a good colloquial word for this) — a screen that shows us what the Public Editor’s priorities are, and what his status is on each.

    Sorry to harp on a hobby horse of mine, but I like to say, there have been a lot of things that the blogging/citmedia could have been pressing for over the last five years. Rather than driving towards better databases, particularly for corrections, they pushed RSS. Newspapers looked at RSS and said, “hey, zero cost, all the benefits!” and bought into it– forestalling, once again, the real engineering work needed.

  2. #2 paul_lukasiak
    on Sep 23rd, 2007 at 3:05 pm

    Hoyt is just another Timesman with a fetish for bright shiny objects that appear on heavily starched military jackets.

    Two weeks ago, he spend his column defending admintration stenographer Michael Gordon, who had written a highly visible article whose emphasis was on the fact that EFP attacks were at their highest level ever in July 2007.

    This week, he’s got the vapors because questioned David Petraeus’s integrity — even though Petraeus ignored the extremely disturbing increase in EFP attacks while claiming that the surge was working.

    Hoyt can’t have it both ways — he can’t defend Gordon (and Keller) for their alarmist reporting concerning Iran’s supposed involvement in Iraq (according to Gordon, the EFP’s contain Iranian components), then turn around and act as if Petraeus is honest when he tells congress that the surge is working.

    It is the failure of the Times, and the rest of the mainstream media, that necessitated an attack on Petraeus’s character — the media had presented Petraeus as the second coming (despite his record of failure as a commander in Iraq), and someone had to start telling the truth about the guy. That someone wound up being those of us who belong to MoveOn.

    And rather than get the vapors about the “juvenile” nature of the ad, serious people — those who actually care that Americans and Iraqis are shedding their blood every day because of Petraeus — would be raising hell about the lies told by Petraeus, and the media’s abject failure to identify Petraeus as the political hack that he is.