How’s that, Howell?

How’s that, Howell?: A juicy bit of irony noted from the Financial Times [via IWantMedia]:

What is the biggest threat to American journalism?

Howell Raines, the deposed (he prefers “retired”) executive editor of The New York Times, has an answer: the Brits.

More specifically, it is the influence of the “British model” of journalism, “where the politics of the paper are thought to change the way information is presented”. Mr Raines sees this happening in America’s tabloid newspapers and television.

(Of course, a common rap against Mr Raines was that he carried out crusades in the Times’ news coverage.)

I’m surprised Andrew Sullivan hasn’t taken the opportunity to slap Howell around once more, for old times’ sake. (Though perhaps because he’s writing for the Times again, he’s gunshy.)

: And Raines has it exactly wrong, of course, for this shows that he’s not paying attention to the audience he was trying to serve. Said it before, I’ll say it again: The moral of the FoxNews story is that we, the citizenry, like opinion, are not scared of opinion, and are smart enough to separate opinion from fact — and we appreciate the honesty (and resulting credibility) of media that reveal their perspectives and prejudices. They is why it’s big on radio. That is why weblogs are clicking with their audiences.

Opinion is in, Howell. If you’d seen that, if you’d admitted it, if you’d gone with that flow, if you’d said that you were, in fact, bringing the British model to America (which is what you were doing, without admitting it), you might be seen as a pioneer; you might not be unemployed (er, retired).