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April 25, 2007

When Public Editors Collide: Former Times Ombudsman Calls NYT Duke Coverage "Everything That's Wrong With American Journalism"

He doesn't seem to agree with Calame's chipper assessment.

The Chronicle, a student newspaper at Duke University, talked to some prominent Times critics, including former public editor Daniel Okrent, to assess the paper's shoddy, slanted coverage of the Duke lacrosse "rape" case in the wake of the three accused players being declared totally innocent of all charges. (Hat-tip Romenesko's Media News.)

"'I think The Times' coverage was heartbreaking,' said Daniel Okrent, who served as the first public editor of The Times from October 2003 to May 2005. 'I understand why they jumped on the story when they did, but it showed everything that's wrong with American journalism.'"

National Journal columnist and former Times reporter Stuart Taylor Jr. told The Chronicle that the controversial 5,600-word lead story August 25 by Duff Wilson and Jonathan Glater was "the worst single piece of journalism I've ever seen in long form in a newspaper."

At the time, Taylor wrote on Slate magazine that the story "highlights every superficial incriminating piece of evidence in the case, selectively omits important exculpatory evidence and reports hotly disputed statements...as if they were established facts."

Chronicle Reporter Iza Wojciechowska: "But The Times' news agenda appeared to support a moral agenda as well, advocating societal lessons emerging from the issues of race, sex and class issues brought to light in the case's early development, said KC Johnson, author of the 'Durham-In-Wonderland' blog that attracted national attention for its coverage of the case. "

Via Newsbusters.


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