NY Times Executive Editor Bill Keller speaks at the Association of National Advertisers about bloggers, among other things, and Jon Fine quotes him in Business Week:
“Most of what you know, you know because of the mainstream media,” Keller said. “Bloggers recycle and chew on the news. That’s not bad. But it’s not enough.”
Keller pointed out that it cost the Times around $1.5 million to maintain a Baghdad bureau in 2004. (It cost one Times freelancer much more last month: He was murdered.) “This kind of civic labor can’t be replaced by bloggers.” The Times’ assets: “A worldwide network of trained, skilled [observers] to witness events” and write about them, and “a rigorous set of standards. A journalism of verification,” rather than of “assertion,” and maintaining an “agnosticism” as to where any story may lead. And, borrowing a key buzzword of the day, he said the Times practiced “transparency,” or, in math-teacher terms, “we show our work.”
Some are eager to see Ms. Miller’s work.
Keller made repeated references to the extreme partisan nature of current discourse, and cited voices that he said urged the Times to “give it up. Embrace your biases,” and write about them “openly.” To this, he said “I object. It’s like saying since genetics account for so much, we should abandon being parents.” Still, he conceded that “a lot of people want journalism that thrills them by telling them what they believe.”
And some would say that transparency would include revealing your biases, whether or not you choose to embrace them. More:
Although online portal Yahoo! (YHOO) sent tremors through the chattering confines of journalism by announcing the high-profile hire of Kevin Sites to cover Iraq, Keller does not see them as large-scale rivals. “I’m confident [Yahoo! and Google (GOOG )] will not be the next generation of press barons,” he said. “Yahoo! could buy 1,200 journalists tomorrow,” a figure which roughly compares to those employed by the Times. But, he added, “to them, it’s a boutique” business.
I’m confused. Employing a worldwide network of trained, skilled observers makes your product journalism but employing 1,200 journalists doesn’t. I’ll have to chew on that.