“Um, should we challenge lies by top newsmakers?” asks NYTimes public editor, and readers—rightly—jump all over him

The New York Times public editor’s very public utterance

Brisbane’s question on reporters’ duty to challenge misleading political speech has permanently altered readers’ expectations
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 12 January 2012 22.32 EST

‘Should the Times be a Truth Vigilante?’ asked Arthur Brisbane. ‘Yes,’ came the resounding reply.

Thursday, Arthur Brisbane, the public editor of the New York Times, went to his readers with a question:

“I’m looking for reader input on whether and when New York Times news reporters should challenge ‘facts’ that are asserted by newsmakers they write about.”

Brisbane (who, as public editor, speaks only for himself, not the Times) referred to two recent stories: the claim that Clarence Thomas had “misunderstood” a financial reporting form when he left out key information, and Mitt Romney’s assertion that President Obama gives speeches “apologising” for America. Brisbane asked whether news reporters should have the freedom to investigate and respond to those comments.

The reaction from readers was swift, voluminous, negative and incredulous.

“Is this a joke? THIS IS YOUR JOB.”

 

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