Saturday, June 10, 2006

'I never aspired to be executive copy editor'

An excerpt from the New York Times' review of Howell Raines' memoir, "The One That Got Away," right after the scandals of Jayson Blair and Judith Miller are mentioned (emphasis mine):
None of these flavors of the Raines epoch make an appearance in "The One That Got Away," but the most frustrating omission in Raines's apologia is the lack of anything specific and useful about how the craft of journalism and editorial management can be practiced in a manner that intercepts and corrects or eliminates the feckless errors and fabulist concoctions of bad reporters. Raines paid dearly for a failure of technique, but he ducks responsibility for what was his obligation to establish an editorial culture in which a problem like Blair becomes the most important thing to confront, at the top of the masthead, the moment the problem comes to light. Fixing facts in sentences is the alpha and omega; but Raines writes, "I never aspired to be executive copy editor of The New York Times." It's one of the low points in the book; the others are a few passages in which he refers to Blair with a combination of incuriosity and ridicule that's beneath him.


At 6:39 PM, June 10, 2006, Blogger Phillip Blanchard said...

Jim McGrath was a little more to the point in his May 10 review.

At 1:00 AM, June 11, 2006, Anonymous rknil said...

Raines is hardly alone. Few newspapers have any mechanism in place for dealing with major problems. The philosophy seems to be "Grind out the paper, and the problems somehow will disappear on their own." But then, this is an industry obsessed with hiring recent college graduates (RCGs) and being obtuse about the detrimental effect that has over time. When no one can build up any experience without fear of being laid off, and no one can question the status quo for fear of being ignored or fired, it's tough to effect change in the newsroom.


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