The 5 most interesting new responses to Brisbane’s ‘Truth Vigilante’ post

Reaction was swift and passionate to Public Editor Arthur Brisbane’s blog post about whether The New York Times should be a “truth vigilante.” Here are the 5 most interesting comments you may have missed:

James Fallows, The Atlantic: “I think Brisbane deserves credit rather than ridicule for raising this question. … Every reflex teaches journalists that the only ‘fair’ approach is to neutrally report ‘both sides’ — and to resist ever saying, ‘for the record, one side is just making things up.’ Thus we have the false equivalence problem.”

Glenn Greenwald, Salon: “Literally every day, one finds major news stories that consist of little more than the uncritical conveying of official claims, often protected by journalists not only from critical scrutiny but — thanks to the shield of anonymity they subserviently extend — from all forms of accountability.”

Ben Howe, Red State: “The lefties on Twitter are very upset with their favorite paper, The New York Times. …  These folks are actually upset that the newsroom isn’t inserting their opinion enough.  And it looks like the Times is interested in hearing out their complaint.”

Jack Shafer, Reuters: “The ombudsman exists primarily to take in the face whatever rotten fruit, bean balls and shards of broken glass that angry readers want to heave at the editors and reporters who produce the newspaper. The ombudsman is a safety valve that prevents reader fury from exploding, a way for the newspaper to say ‘we listen.’ And today, as the gashes on his face prove, Brisbane is earning his pay.”

Clay Shirky, the Guardian: Brisbane’s question makes perfect sense, considered from the newsroom’s perspective. … he is evidently so steeped in newsroom culture that he does not understand – literally, does not understand, as we know from his subsequent clarifications – that this is not a hard question at all, considered from the readers’ perspective.

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  • Anonymous

    jclaytonshaw - That’s a good point. 

    Info about surveillance and stalking is important (for example). What happens in the White House is tricky, since its inhabitants live there as public servants. Knitting-circle gossip is not newsworthy. But in this economy, you don’t want to hire an unethical slut whose conduct [naked pics of ugly people] taints the office that’s liable for it.

  • Anonymous

    Personally, I disagreed with every sentence Shirky wrote — but what was it Voltaire said about writing? 

    I didn’t read the Times piece, for personal reasons — I’ve complained to their ombudsman about certain columnists’ behavior — and more serious concerns that have emerged since. If I had more time, I’d link to content about “gougers” here, and review several columns by Maureen Dowd (sort of like writing an English paper on a bad piece of fiction). There’s probably more than one stranger who utilized their site as ‘Diana Moses.’ If I expected an honest response, I’d ask about the nature of their agenda and who helped them.

    I like Fallows’s work. Most stories worth telling have more than a couple people, though, imho. No two sentient adults think exactly alike. If that’s what Brisbane meant to explore, it wasn’t a stupid question. And it’s dangerous to smother anyone for asking questions in good faith. Especially for a profession that stakes its existence on the ability to do so.  

  • Anonymous

    For decades, the New York Times has led its political stories with the opinions of the writers rather than verifiable fact — remember some of the Bill Clinton coverage?   

    Remember the absence of truth-seeking in the lead-up to the war in Iraq?? 

    So the political reporting of the NYTimes really isn’t to be trusted.  

    The rest of their reporting, though, tends to be very, very good, often bringing important stories to the attention of the public. 

  • Anonymous

    “These folks are actually upset that the newsroom isn’t inserting their opinion enough.”

    Republicans need to step out of the artificial reality chamber once in a while. Refuting lies and falsehoods is not a matter of opinion.