Friday, February 20, 2004

Worth checking out

Richard Lingeman of The Nation reviews "My Times: A Memoir of Dissent." It is John Hess' account of his 24 years at the New York Times, and it sounds like an account both enlightening and deflating.

Here's an excerpt from the review:
Hess's critique of his alma mater is interesting because it is substantive--avowedly political from a leftist perspective. While copy editors were fussing with reporters over ledes and style, "monstrous falsehoods were passing into print, unchallenged." Hess retells the story of how Kennett Love, the paper's man in Tehran, covered up the CIA's role in the 1953 coup and recites other examples of missed stories on the US Imperialism beat now in the public record.
And here's an excerpt from the book:
For my sins, my first assignment at The New York Times was to edit Fin-Biz copy, which was so slugged after the hostile merger of two news desks, Financial and Business, whose jurisdictions were never clear; it had sometimes happened that both would report the same event on the same page. One day a sports editor and I spent a lunch break debating which of us had to cope with more appalling material. My colleague called it a scoreless tie, then conceded a point. He said he'd asked a friend who was a bank officer what he thought of the Times's business coverage. The banker replied that it was excellent, authoritative -- "except in banking, where they don't know their ass from first base."


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