Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The suckiest job at the New York Times...

...has to be that of Public Editor Byron Calame. His job is to restore the public 's faith in the credibility of the Times by being the reader's advocate -- if you see something not right (or wrong) in the Times, he's the guy you go to to set things right.

One would think that the editorial staff would, therefore, see him as an ally -- someone who's looking out for the longstanding reputation of their beloved institution.

One would be wrong.

Read this recent column by Calame, discussing calls for a correction on a story about, of all people, Geraldo Rivera and whether he "nudged" someone out of the way to help a disabled person in New Orleans after the hurricane.

The discussion itself is amusing enough -- heck, anything with Rivera and the New York Times in it together is gonna be darn funny. But what's particularly telling is how the Times editorial staff treats Calame.

Reporter Alessandra Stanley refuses to review the videotapes of the alleged incident with Calame. Mind you, these are the very tapes that will determine whether or not she got it right or wrong.

Editor Bill Keller replies derisively -- via email -- that no correction is warranted, implying that because of who Rivera is (an obnoxious, grandstanding loudmouth -- my words, not Keller's) and his violent reaction to the story, anything he does is open to interpretation.

Translation -- you can say anything you want about people you don't like without regard to the actual facts if you're the New York Times.

Pretty disturbing. In the wake of the various journalistic lapses and calamities that have occurred over the past few years -- including at the New York Times -- you'd think the editorial staff would take their credibility and reputation more seriously, that they would view Calame as a protector and friend.

Somehow, I imagine Calame spends a lot his noon hours sitting alone at the lunchtable.

No wonder trust in the traditional media is in continuous decline.

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