The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Monday, March 15, 2004

Another of journalism's arcana: rowback

From New York Times' ombud Daniel Okrent: a less fraught piece this week (after the Landesman furore) highlights the practice whereby a media outlet seeks to correct an error without actually admitting that an error has been made.

The cases he cites explain the technique.

The gilt slightly taken off the gingerbread by his envoi: announcing that he
going to pick on the worst habits of certain anti-Times critics lurking on the Web
he moans about some Freeper moron who organised a harassment campaign against a Times hack for some piece that, it turns out, he did not write.

One suspects the influence of stimulants, given that said moron apologised to the hack afterwards.

Okrent finishes:
I've been through several escapades like this one, launched from various ideological precincts scattered around the Web. They all conclude with the same lesson: It's all right to knock The Times. It's even your privilege to hate it. But it's always useful to read it first.

I'm slightly puzzled at why Okrent should have got involved in the Freeper case - he doesn't say that the guy contacted him. How the other escapades panned out, we don't know, of course.

And the tone of his last graf is off. Wearily exasperated schoolmarm, perhaps. We scarcely need his permission to knock or hate the rag; and complaining before reading is the MO of the certifiable or the stimulant-motivated.

So why say it?

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