Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Wojciechowska's Counterfactual

An intriguing counterfactual from Iza Wojciechowska, regarding her article today:

When I was talking to critics and former Times editors for this article, they all repeatedly told me that The Times ran articles slanted toward Nifong and never completely acknowledged their error, even after the case came to a close earlier this month. It brings to light an interesting dynamic because The New York Times is arguably one of the most-respected papers in the country (some of my sources called it “a bible” or “a gospel” of the news), but when The Times takes a certain stance, it takes its many readers along with it. I think the thing I heard most when reporting for this story was that because of The Times’ reputation and the standard people hold it to, what The Times prints must be true.

So I wonder: if The Times had restrained its coverage a little bit—or perhaps been “more skeptical,” as the critics would like to have seen—would the entire story, the entire case, the entire “perfect storm” have been the same? Would it still have been a story of such national prominence if The Times had run something else on its front page?


Anonymous said...

The New York Times is now oh-for-two when it stakes it's reputation on young African Americans. Jayson Blair and Crystal Gail Mangum have, in their own special ways, burned them beyond all recognition. As for their coverage of the War on Terrorism, their anti-Bush bias, refusal to review books with which they don't agree, etc., it is easy to see that the NY times is the most anti-American daily in the United States today, and Pinch Sulzberger's legacy will be that of running the old gray lady into the ground.

Chicago said...

NY Times is completely overrated. One of the many lessons learned in this case.

Anonymous said...

How will the AG release his facts on Wednesday...

Anonymous said...

2000-2007 will surely be the saddest and most pathetic chapter of the New York Times.

The paper was way too liberal, but it's content and reputation induced us to buy it over our hometown LA Times. But through a gross error in judgment, control was entrusted to its founding family; its carefully nurtured stable of reporters and editors were entrusted wholesale in about 2000 to a college flameout and man of no acomplishment whatever other than being "the boss's son."

Pinch Sulzburger has no particular talent except a smug pretense to intelligence. Almost alone, he has caused its dramatic fall from the "newspaper of record" to a tattered rag respected only by those too inert to know better.

The range of failures is appalling: Howell Raines; Jayson Blair; fixations on the membership policy of a golf course while crucial stories went unreported; uncritically adopting the release of the people convicted years ago in an attack on the central park jogger (the Times was impressed with the lack of DNA in that case and ignored the videotaped confessions and other evidence).

Controlled by a rich man's son who would be fired but for weighted preferred stock voting, it hectors CEO's about "excessive" salaries.

Now the demonstrable failure of reporting in the most publicized and egregious abuses of prosecutorial power in recent memory.

The NYT's policy of treating "some" stories more tenderly than others is revealed again as mere propaganda. Pinch's propaganda.

A pretense of reporting the facts while underplaying the obvious is obvious to the very readers that made the Times a respected paper.

Telling readers what the Times thinks they should hear simply sends us elsewhere.

Now the worst: a real reporter and not a trainee says he looked at the file and it seems he didn't; if he did, he obviously suspended his credulity to favor the very people the NYT should have eviscerated.

Pathetic. Just pathetic.

Anonymous said...

1:18 Terrific essay - says it all.

Anonymous said...

CBS News & "60 Minutes" have a significantly larger national audience than the New York Times and we know they went down to Durham independently. In fact, the interactive dynamic between these two (CBS News and the New York Times) could offer a fascinating comparative analysis in framing. If the New York Times were more powerful than "60 Minutes," one would assume that public opinion about the case would not have swung the way it did. Also: once "60 Minutes" made it O.K. to challenge the veracity of the accuser (without being labeled racist, sexist, etc.) it opened the floodgates for much of the American media to tell the truth without risking losing some liberal credibility. This may be the real reason "60 Minutes" won the Peabody. The New York Times might be read by the "proper" demographic, but it directly reaches maybe 1/25 of the number of Americans as "60 Minutes," and that number includes the people who skipped all the Durham coverage in favor of other articles (whereas we can be assured that the viewers of "60 Minutes" watched those pieces).

Roger said...

1:18 says it all! excellent essay. Add to those comments the fact that many other local news outlets pick up NYT stories as gospel and the misstatements and opinions get spread as fact. The NYT has moved from the paper of record (although that has been quite a while) to the equivalent of a style tabloid for the top quintile earners in the tri state area. Given their declining profit marginn they may be making a business decision to focus on an increasingly small radical chic elite in CT and the Hamptons.

Anonymous said...

The NY Times ceased being the paper of record years ago. Its liberal bias became obvious to all but the most left more than 5 years ago. For Republicans and other conservatives, the Washington Post, while still possessing a liberal slant, is a much more reliable paper.

rod allison, detroit said...

"Not that many rape stories make Page 1 of The New York Times. When The Times decides such a story rises to national prominence, the onus is on them to explain why this is a national news story"

That is absolutely correct. The very fact that the Times gave front page coverage to rape charges against three unknown guys in a sport nobody cares about - as opposed to any of the several allegations of rape made against college ballplayers in higher profile sports every year - is an indication of their bias.

The mainstream press as a whole tends to give far more coverage to white on black violence than black on white (the only exception is when a celebrity is involved, like Kobe or OJ). This pattern is so prevalant that its not even recognized as a bias anymore. Its just considered the way it is supposed to be.

But it is a bias, and an extreme one. Its something that the Times needs to be made to explain.

Anonymous said...

The NYT is no longer a product of excellent journalism. For years, I felt compelled to read it each morning. Now, I rarely glance at it.

Only far reaching liberals still confer on it the high standard of the past. It still lives off its past reputation to many who are casual readers. Reputations, good or bad, remain long after the reality. The great NYT of the past no longer exists and the Duke coverage while dramatic, is just one example of why.

P. Rich said...

"The New York Times is arguably one of the most-respected papers in the country..."

I think that statement is 5-10 years out of date, and there is a substantial argument against respect due the NYT (speaking here of the "news" and editorials). The only thing it can be trusted to do is slant its choice of articles and content noticeably to the left.

It would be extraordinarily naïve to think the Duke lax coverage is a rare exception. Anyone who believes so hasn't been paying critical attention.

Anonymous said...

Gregg Easterbrook's TMQ column on ESPN has a lacrosse reference and good commentary for #14 in his Mocking Mock Draft. (Roughly 1/3 down the page)

14. Carolina Panthers: Moezeldin Elmostafa, Durham, N.C. cab driver

Anonymous said...

Just because "60 Minutes" came down on the right side in the Duke matter, don't think for a minute (or even 60 of them) that Mike Wallace et. al. aren't agenda-driven. I had occasion to observe their reporting on numerous matters with which I was intimately involved; believe me, the 60 Minutes stable of reporters isn't much better than Duff Wilson and the gang that staffs NYT today. Ed Bradley did a great job in covering the Duke case, but that was, IMHO, an anomaly. My gut reaction is to mistrust ANYTHING I read in any newspaper or news magazine, until I can verify or knock down the story. All of you who are interested in justice and in seeing Nifong and his enablers quashed, would do well to grow some healthy skepticism to confront so-called "news reporting."

Anonymous said...

JLS says....

I do not read the NYC Times. It is given away for free by our classrooms and I do not bother to pick it up.

That said, an interesting case study would be to compare the NYC Times coverage of the Scottsboro Boys case with the NYC Times coverage of the Duke Lacrosse case. It might well show why the NYC Times was imperfectly building stature during the 20th Century and is losing stature during the 21st Century.

Anonymous said...

Not to be redundant but
It is the end of the day
And Nifong is still the D A

Anonymous said...

Hopefully the boys will end up owning the Times. If I were on the jury they would.

I am sure they could do a better job than the traitorous lynch prone idiots who run it at present.

John said...

I am less than a regular reader of this blog, but have been following it closely since the Cooper bombshell. Is it me, or have the 88 been conspicuous by their silence since Cooper declared the 3 innocent? I dont believe they are capable of being shocked off their feet, but I do think they are masters of disembling, and of claiming they have been misunderstood. Have I missed something lately?


Anonymous said...

It's not you, John.

Georgia Girl said...

Off thread a little, but nevertheless it all stems from accusations of rape, and we now know the players were NOT guilty.

Okay, I've never asked this question until today: What should the penalty be for a true rapist ... a known rapist ... an admitted rapist?

Is there a person here who does not believe that a "rapist" should be castrated? Forget the 30 yeras in prison! Look at all the tax dollars saved!

Georgia Girl said...

I believe victims should have a role in deciding punishment for true rapists.

Anonymous said...

KC <3 Iza..Iza's hawtt.

Anonymous said...

Apparently, the group of 88 is increasingly the target of threating email and "bizarre packages":

Duke Profs Receive Racist E-Mail After Lacrosse Case

Intimidation through threats of violence is despicable.

The blog hooligans have done a world of good, and are a wonderful antidote for the powers that be. But as always there is a "near enemy", which perverts the good into evil. DukeEgr93 calls them the anonymazzi

Anonymous said...

I signed the petition- anyway we can get to Hank A. concerning his comments about Womens Lacrosse.

rrhamilton said...

In case you thought the Duke faculty isn't reading D-i-W, I found this among the comments on the Chronicle's website:

"A fellow faculty member alerted me to the hateful [comments] posted in response to this innocuous announcement of an Islamic Studies program here. I usually roll my eyes at the ignorance and blind hatred so blatently on display in the blogosphere (Durham in Wonderland being an obvious example)....


rrhamilton said...

I just noticed: I should've put a "sic" after the professor's "blatently" misspelled word.

Dave said...

There is so much to say about the NY Times.

I continue to wonder about the August story and the "strong body of evidence" to support the prosecutor's case. They have never corrected, retracted or revised that statement.

Do the Times' editors now believe that Roy Cooper was mistaken when he found "no evidence?" He didn't say not enough evidence but no evidence. If they think he was mistaken, can we expect to see stories about Cooper ignoring the body of evidence that Duff Wilson was able to root out?

If they don't think the AG was mistaken, what happened to the strong body of evidence? Don't the editors want to find out what Duff was looking at? And don't they want to find out why the AG rejected whatever Duff was looking at?

A page one story in the Sunday NY Times is a big deal. Aren't they concerned about using that valuable, prominent space for a story that was completely wrong? From the e-mails they deigned to send the public editor, apparently not.

Anonymous said...

re "hate" emails sent to G88:

Is it "hateful" or truthful to observe that Wahneema and Holloway are recipients of academic welfare?


Now there's a title for a listening statement


Anonymous said...

Dear Wahneema,

We was doing pretty good at honky-domunated Duke before you got the bright idea to compose that listening statement. I was resepected before that came out; now I's disrespected, and that racist Polanski calls my paycheck a welfare check.
You done mades mah life verys unpleasant.

You a fat pig. Don't call me anymoh.

Karla Holloway

Gary Packwood said...

rrhamilton 10:02 quoted...
"A fellow faculty member alerted me to the hateful [comments] posted in response to this innocuous announcement of an Islamic Studies program here. I usually roll my eyes at the ignorance and blind hatred so blatently on display in the blogosphere (Durham in Wonderland being an obvious example)....
Can you imagine what the students must say about these faculty members over a Bud?
Blog Hooligans could pick up some great lines from the students, I would bet!

rrhamilton said...

Did KC cover this last month and I missed it?

This is a story in the Chronicle about how the Gang of 88 are the "real victims" of the Hoax.


Be sure to go to the "comments" section. I for one am proud of the Duke students. This has been a major consciousness-raising event for them.

Anonymous said...

I am a little late to the discussion today, but the NYT is one of my favorite subjects. Calame left so much unsaid in his public editor column it's just painful.

I must be one of the NYT's most loyal readers... and will continue to be one, I expect, despite its notable, abysmal failures and the enormous demands it makes on my time. But Duff Wilson's August 25 article will forever live in infamy. It was completely transparent in its support of Mr. Nifong. I agree with Mr. Calume that Mr. Gottlieb's notes were the "new" news and deserved special prominence as Mr. Nifong's alleged "body of evidence" for proceeding with this case, but Mr. Wilson's sheer gullibility made it clear he was surfing the big wave very prematurely.

I personally interpreted the article as good news. Mr. Wilson had done everything in his power to save Mr. Nifong's case, and the case was still a complete disgrace to Durham, NC. I understand why the article nauseated many people, though. I anxiously tried to assess whether a jury would be vulnerable to its arguments.

Just for a contrast, may I point out the sympathetic article printed on the front page of the Sunday, April 22,2007, edition of the NYT about the Va. Tech. shooter. This gentle article about Seung-Hui Cho, one of the confirmed worst mass murderers of all time, and his family departs dramatically from the coverage of the Duke LAX defendants. I am not really faulting the NYT for this April 22 article called "Before Deadly Rage, a Lifetime Consumed by a Troubling Silence." I am just so dismayed that the NYT can portray the Cho family with such sensitivity, yet continue the pretense that they wrote about the Duke defendants and their backgrounds, families, sport with anything like neutrality, let alone actual sympathy.


Anonymous said...

Even now, when thanks to the explicit exoneration by AG Roy Cooper, the Duke LAX families are so very obviously deserving of sympathy, support, and the chagrined acknowledgement of misjudgment and clear bias from the cowardly NYT, its writers, and its public editor.


scott said...

Wojciechowska said ...

"I think the thing I heard most when reporting for this story was that because of The Times’ reputation and the standard people hold it to, what The Times prints must be true."

I thought "W's" story was good. The problem with the above statement (and it's not aimed at her because she's just passing along what she heard) is that the Times' reputation based on its performance for many years now is a fraud. And they certainly don't meet the standard that I hold it to.

The fact is the NYT is riding on a reputation that is no longer deserved if it ever was. Their standard is shoddy reporting on the Nifong Scandal Case and myriad other stories that they got wrong. Some of us get that; others are still reading the NYT as though it must be true.

No justice, no peace said...

Georgia Girl, Cooper declared the young men INNOCENT which is entirely different that "not guilty". Words have meaning.

No justice, no peace said...

NYT Shareholders aren't real happy

"April 25, 2007 -- Turning up the heat on New York Times Chairman Arthur "Pinch" Sulzberger, shareholders sent their strongest signal yet that they want a shake-up at the newspaper giant.

A stunning 54 percent of votes cast by public shareholders not tied to the founding Ochs-Sulzberger family refused to vote for a slate of four independent directors at the Times' annual meeting yesterday..."

What about the Duke "shareholders"?

No justice, no peace said...

Dartmouth Board of Trustees

Why doesn't Duke demand a similar structure? There is no transparency, governance, or leadership at Duke. Those that are alumni and support the schools should have a voice.

TC said...

..."The New York Times is arguably one of the most-respected papers in the country (some of my sources called it “a bible” or “a gospel” of the news), but when The Times takes a certain stance, it takes its many readers along with it. "

The only truth above is that it takes many along with it, zombies seem to follow one another.

Bible? Gospel? no doubt spoken by those that have not had either in their hands since age 9!

Comparing the the times with such displays a serious lack, very serious!