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Saturday, September 15, 2012

New 'NYT' Public Ed. Ventures Into 'False Balance' Thicket

You've got to give Margaret Sullivan, the new NYT public editor, credit for taking on right at the start of her tenure the simmering debate over fake balance in news stories, what Jay Rosen calls "the view from nowhere," at the expense of truth and accuracy.  Her Sunday piece points out,  "Particularly in this intensely political season, readers and media critics are calling for journalists to take more responsibility for what is true and what is not. What’s more, readers want it done immediately, not days later in follow-up articles."

But a Times editor says it's not so easy, and an editor and reporter Ethan Bronner defend a classic example of the genre in a recent piece on voter "fraud." You know, they know, it doesn't really exist but, hey, you've got to quote both sides.

Sullivan doesn't say much in response, but does close with:  "Journalists need to make every effort to get beyond the spin and help readers know what to believe, to help them make their way through complicated and contentious subjects. The more news organizations can state established truths and stand by them, the better off the readership — and the democracy — will be."

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