August 1, 2003

INTERESTING TRANSCRIPT of a PBS Newshour segment on the New York Times’ decision to get an ombudsman. Excerpt:

TERENCE SMITH: Susan Tifft, in a memo to the staff yesterday, Bill Keller said the committee that Joann was on had concluded that the Blair fiasco was made possible in part by a climate of, “isolation, intimidation, favoritism, and unrelenting pressure on the staff by the top editors.”

That sounds like a pretty damning indictment of Howell Raines and his deputy.

SUSAN TIFFT: Well, I think it was. I mean, in some places the report, I think, was very harsh, but I think it also was not directed entirely just at Howell Raines, the former executive editor.

I think what was really remarkable about the report was that it was really trying to get at a sort of systemic culture of the newsroom of The New York Times.

Will adding an ombudsman be enough, or is that mere window-dressing? I think that if the culture doesn’t change, it won’t be enough.

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