Monday, June 28, 2004

I've often thought the ombudsman column at the New York Times was a great idea well implemented, and that many critics of the Times should try something similar. I've never before seen them use the excuse that everyone else did the same thing or worse (although it is often true) until now.

If out-of-tune headlines required apologies, the newspaper business would soon turn into a cacophony of confession.

I'm always annoyed at those who ignore glaring distortions by media reflecting their own political viewpoint while bashing the New York Times for much smaller errors. As an admirer of the Times, I think it's worth pointing out they have fallen short of the example they wish to set.

I'm sure the ombudsman can't change industrywide standards for headlines, or even NYT's standards. Many people get their news on some subjects from the headlines - perhaps more than read any given story to the end. This problem is worth thinking hard about, and now would have been a great time to start. Ah well.

(Mailed to NYT ombudsman 6/28/04).

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