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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Thursday, April 07, 2005

More New York Times sleaze - and, this time, neither the Bushies nor Judith Miller are involved!

Another example of the contempt of the Top Paper for its readers (as if another was needed!) comes with the tale of the Columbia University report on alleged bullying of Jews by pro-Palestinian professors [1].

The report dared to find the allegations almost entirely unproven; and, in the First Jewish City in the World [2], that was going to need some news management.

Who better to call in for a sweetheart deal than those sweethearts on West 43rd Street:
The article did not disclose The Times's source for the document, but Columbia officials have since confirmed publicly that they provided it, a day before its formal release, on the condition that the writer not seek reaction from other interested parties.

Thus the Editor's Note attempting to explain away this cosy little arrangement.

It harrumphs
Under The Times's policy on unidentified sources, writers are not permitted to forgo follow-up reporting in exchange for information.

Ah, the
Times's policy on unidentified sources
- the social security trust fund has more substance!

(No, it doesn't. Ed.)

The Times' excuse for the hack and editors (do they really have those at the Times?) is a doozy:
In this case, editors and the writer did not recall the policy...

When Tom DeLay comes out with lines of similar inanity to justify his foreign expeditions, I hope the Times is as understanding!

It all - and, of course, this is the whole point - begs the question what sweetheart deals the Times cuts with other sources. Perhaps the reason the folks concerned with the Columbia piece
did not recall the policy
was because it was so seldom considered.

There is a replacement for Daniel Okrent being touted round: is he prepared to grip the problem? Or is he practising to exercise the fallibility of memory apparently so thoroughly mastered by the rest of his future colleagues...

  1. Pro-Palestinian professors at Columbia? Oy vey! Haven't the nice people from AIPAC been round to offer their guidance?

  2. The largest Jewish population, at least. Still. I think.


The New York Sun is having fun.

The good people at CJR Daily - not so much. Absolutely no mention of the story whatsoever, so far as I can see. Do we take that as an endorsement of the NYT/Columbia deal by the Columbia School of Journalism? Or craven cowardice in the face of journalistic practices that, if found in other circumstances, would have elicited sharp commentary?

As the pickpocket in Casablanca almost said,

There are hacks...hacks everywhere.


The Sun does have a Columbia J-School quote:
The dean of Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism, Nicholas Lemann, a longtime staff writer for New Yorker magazine, said the deal may have been a breach of ethics — but a minor one.

“This would be in the realm of the venial, and I’m not sure whose sin it is: the Times, Columbia, or both,” he said. “In an ideal story, the story would quote all parties concerned.”

And this is the guy responsible for educating young minds in the ways of journalism? Does he believe it, or is he kidding?

(Maybe that's why it's not covered in CJR Daily - they asked Lemann, and he said, Forget it: it's venial. Could that happen? Say it ain't so...)


The explanation for Columbia adopting the fetal position on this issue is hinted at in this piece from Campus J: Jewish Collegiate News.

It volunteers that
The Sun has supported the student campaign for the past few months

The site seems to be associated with an outfit described as
Columbians for Academic Freedom
- a name which, judging from the tone of the piece - I have no intention of broaching jury questions - I suspect to be thoroughly Orwellian.

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