NYTimes Public Ed Admits LAT Piece Was Cruddy

The New York Times’ public editor has essentially acknowledged that his paper’s article this week about the Los Angeles Times was a piece of dreck.

“It’s the kind of story that, given its implications, could have used more language — and descriptions of evidence — to support its premises,” he concluded.

Yep. The lamest defense from the editor involved was that the reporter, Jeremy Peters — who presented little evidence to back up his assertions — had more quotes in his notes, but those weren’t used. What does that even mean — that we don’t have to make our case in print, because we have it on file?

As one former LA Times colleague noted, the piece said as much about the New York Times — and its tendency to overreach with such articles, especially in its Monday media-business coverage — as it did the Los Angeles Times, inasmuch as most of the criticism could have been registered a couple of years ago. (Kevin Roderick made a similar point — as in “Why now?” — on his indispensible blog, Laobserved.com.)

That said, I’m hardly one to give the LA Times a pass, and the paper still has its head-scratching, follow-the-herd moments, like today’s trio of pieces — including one by op-ed columnist Meghan Daum — about the MTV series “Skins.” Talk about a serious case of overkill, as if the issue of overly sexualized teens in media is brand new.

Still, the NY Times piece was a mess, and it’s nice to see the public editor admit as much.


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