Sunday, April 8, 2007

Goodman: "New media affecting journalism accuracy"

As assiduous readers may suspect, the sabotage of an Ellen Goodman column in the Courier a few weeks ago touched off the process that led to this blog. Today's column is less egregiously mangled than that one, but there remains a very bad smell in the room.

What the Courier offers us of Goodman's column looks untouched by the editors, matching the WaPo version exactly. That's all good. What we don't see is 376 words, more than half of this 782-word column, that were simply chopped off the end.

Now, go with me for a minute. You're a page editor, and you've got a space to fill that you know won't take more than 300 words. The world is full of 300-word possibilities -- papers need to fill holes of all sizes, and syndicators know that their sales depend on their ability to supply the right products for those holes. But no, you, the Courier page editor, pass over all those 300- to 400-word products and you jump right to Ellen Goodman, whose regular columns are all in the 800-word bracket, more than twice as large as your space. You download it, dump what you can in the hole, slash off the rest and call it good.

Of course, this crude amputation leaves a column that makes no sense, so, being a good person and all, you cap it off with a headline that sort of describes the ragged stump of argument you have left.

Goodman's point was not to slam new media, blogs in particular, or doctors. Those were two examples supporting a much broader argument, captured in the original headline "Pushing Back Against the Clock." Check it out if you'd like to see how your Courier editors are serving you.

I'll put it to you, dear reader: is this simple incompetence, or sabotage?

2 comments:

MJ said...

it doesn't matter that much to me whether this is incompetence or sabotage. it is pretty poor practice either way.

Yo Tim -- either print ellen goodman's columns substantially as she wrote them or don't print them at all. your current strategy of using the fact that you print ellen goodman as a veil for your obvious conservative bias IS NOT WORKING.

i would much rather deal with your honest prejudice than than have to compensate for the fact that you are trying to hide it. and doing it none too well at that ...

leftturnclyde said...

right on MJ ! this kind twisting of the reporters intent is what got steve riled up enough to start this blog
I add my voice to the call either print the whole thing or leave it alone ,all these imported stories not just ellen's