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?
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
An intriguing counterfactual from Iza Wojciechowska, regarding her article today: