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Helping the NY Times Become ‘Truth Vigilantes’


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Last week, Arthur Brisbane — the public editor of the New York Times – asked: “Should the Times be a Truth Vigilante?”

Apparently many of the Times‘ readers count on the paper to cast a skeptical eye on dubious claims of politicians. (Based on Brisbane’s examples, the word “politicians” should be modified with “Republican.”) In response to an email, Brisbane sets out the problems he needs to resolve:

This message was typical of mail from some readers who, fed up with the distortions and evasions that are common in public life, look to The Times to set the record straight. They worry less about reporters imposing their judgment on what is false and what is true.

Is that the prevailing view? And if so, how can The Times do this in a way that is objective and fair? Is it possible to be objective and fair when the reporter is choosing to correct one fact over another? Are there other problems that The Times would face that I haven’t mentioned here?

Brisbane’s column got me thinking: could being a “truth vigilante” actually improve the New York Times? I believe so.

I don’t pretend to be an expert in everything published in the Times, but I am pretty familiar with its coverage of the Middle East. So if Brisbane would like examples of how his employer could “set the record straight” in a way that is “objective and fair,” here are examples related to news stories that appeared in the Times is 2011.

On January 1, 2011, Isabel Kershner reported “Tear Gas Kills a Palestinian Protester”:

A Palestinian woman died Saturday after inhaling tear gas fired by Israeli forces a day earlier at a protest against Israel’s separation barrier in a West Bank village.

A hospital director, Dr. Muhammad Aideh, said the woman had arrived on Friday suffering from tear-gas asphyxiation and died despite hours of treatment.snip
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Funny that the Times would consider itself a vigilante for exposing the truth. Tells you where they've been for the last several decades. But when you've lived a lie for as long as it has, you can't even see the truth, nevermind report it. The NYT's dying gasp is coming sooner rather than later. The world will be better off.

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