NYT and its critics
Sunday, December 21st, 2003
Jeff Jarvis dissects an e-mail sent by NYTimes “public editor” Dan Okrent to bloggers complaining about New York Times’ uncoverage of a Baghdad peace demonstration
Jeff and his commenters rightly pummel Okrent for including the self-indicting excuse that “the organizers of the demonstration failed to alert the Times in advance.”
Anyway, if Okrent is going to send e-mails to bloggers and then get chewed up in blogger’s posts and comments sections, he’ll soon realize that having his own blog will be far more efficent mode of communication.
But bringing all those conversations into an Okrent blog will be dangerous. The critics will benefit from the new efficiency too. The traditional publisher’s hub-and-spoke approach to communication keeps readers divided-and-conquered. If the debate concentrates in one space and readers can see what other readers are thinking, they can more readily gang up on the paper.
Of course, the ganging up is going on anyway via posts like Jeff’s but the process is slower and less public.
In his first official column, Okrent says the Times gets roughly 800 e-mails and letters a day.
As we know, a number of blogs run by single, part-time individuals get that many or more responses each day.) What nuclear chain reaction will be set off when those posted ideas are available to the public and can interact with each other?
Anyway, kudos to Okrent for stepping onto the slippery slope of debating bloggers. Like Lear, he may soon realize: that way lies madness.
Note to self on something to do later: dissect awesome old-media smugness/backhanded-self-congratulation of Okrent’s first paragraph of first column:
MOST people who are subjects of newspaper articles they believe to be unfair or inaccurate have few avenues of recourse. You can write a letter to the editor, and if you’re extraordinarily lucky, it will leap out of the enormous haystack (The Times gets more than 300,000 letters and e-mail messages every year) and into print. You can ask for a correction, which even if granted isn’t likely to be seen by nearly as many people as the original story. If you’ve got a lot of money and a lot of time, you could even hire a lawyer.
300,000 letters a year? Gee, that’s almost as many as Instapundit gets!