In today’s Times, public editor Byron Calame interviews standards editor Allan Siegal and comes up with an answer that demands a follow-up question:
By the charter that my job was given when it was set up, I have the guaranteed right to go not just to the executive editor with any misgivings I have, but directly to the publisher. On one occasion, when I thought that there was too much opinion seeping into the news pages, I went to both of them simultaneously.
And just what occasion was that?
Also, Siegal reacts to the blogs:
Q. How have reader expectations about the paper’s standards changed over the past few years?
A. It’s a very hard question to answer because with the blogs out there drumming up opposition to the “mainstream media,” and with the Bush administration and some of its most fervent supporters drumming up contempt for the news media – for the Eastern liberal news media, so called – it’s very hard to tell which expressions of reader sentiment are genuine….
Oh, I’d say that if someone took the effort to write what they thought, it’s genuine. And this:
Q. What have been the most important changes in the standards editor’s job?
A. The big one that I’ve mentioned is the degree of scrutiny and our awareness of the scrutiny from the blogs, and the degree of expectation on the outside that we must be doing something wrong and we’re not to be trusted. So we have to explain ourselves and prove we mean well, and in ways that we once probably wouldn’t have had to.
I’d say you always should have, whether you had to or not.