Thursday, April 23, 2009
As I pointed out last August, Clark Hoyt has been a lame excuse for a public editor. His two year term is due up May 13. The question is, will the Times keep the position going? I think not, simply because the focus of the Times is not on long term integrity but simply keeping its head above water. Hoyt was too much a sycophant to be effective. Nothing since I wrote the August article has changed my opinion of him. He did write a sternly worded piece on the overuse of anonymous sources in late March in an apparent attempt to burnish his reputation in his waning days. Anonymous sourcing is a common and ongoing complaint at any newspaper, not just the NY Times. It’s an easy target and he didn’t approach it very effectively. He never brought up why anonymous sourcing is so improper. It is that too many times reporters use them to embellish and, even worse, falsify a story. The Jayson Blair fiasco was not only one of the worst examples of this, it is the very reason the Times established the public editor’s position in the first place. The real test of a public editor at the Times is whether he or she could and would ferret out another Jayson Blair. I don’t think Hoyt was up to it. Alert: The NY Times annual shareholders’ meeting is today, beginning at 10am. There is a potential for some fireworks, especially after Tuesday’s disastrous first quarterly report. The value of NYT stock has plummeted from $20 last year at this time to less than $5 yesterday, a drop of 75%, and all dividends have been eliminated. If anything exciting happens, I’ll post it here.