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Objectivity reconsidered

Posted on | February 22, 2008 | No Comments

Steve Boriss takes Time Managing Editor Rick Stengel to task today. Stengel wonders whether newspapers should be taking sides:

How can a newspaper be objective on the front page when it endorses a candidate on the editorial page?

It’s easy. Just call yourself The Wall Street Journal. Somehow–gosh, call it discipline–The Journal has managed to publish the most conservative and smart editorial page in America inside a Pulitzer Prize-winning fair and honest newspaper. How? Separate staffs and an adherence to principle. There may be fair amount of Journal readers who read both religiously; some Journal news readers may hate the editorial policies and ignore those pages. But there’s a wall inside the paper, and it works. It works so well The Journal has expanded its editorial franchise online and on television. Its conservative take on the world in the back of the “A” section never trickles out to the front of it. (We’ll see whether that holds up under Rupert Murdoch).
You can’t say the same of The New York Times.
Stengel’s biggest gaffe here is that he, like so many other American editors, assumes that readers are easily duped, that they’re gap-toothed rubes spilling coffee on their shirts as they read their daily newspapers. That belief is behind the dumbing-down of American journalism during the past 25 years, and it will kill the business.
And Rick, fyi, it’s killing Time.

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No Responses to “Objectivity reconsidered”

  1. Ry Schwark
    February 23rd, 2008 @ 12:48 pm

    I love the WSJ, but I often find the editorial page vapid, shrill and hypocritical. Perhaps because the rest of the paper is so good, I expect, or hope, for greater thought from the editorial page.

    Still, they are excellent at compartmentalizing the opinion section, so the rest of the paper never suffers.

    I like the New York Times too, but I think they do a pretty crappy job of keeping their opinions out of the news.

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