Monday, February 25, 2008

The life and Times of John McCain

As most of you know, John McCain found himself at the center of controversy when a New York Times story suggested that McCain might have had an affair with one of his aides, Vicki Iseman. The Times followed up with a column that stated the story was about McCain's recklessness and disregard for others' opinion of him, and how it could hurt his chances for the presidency.

For years, the New York Times has been the gold standard along with the Washington Post in terms of print journalism. It has great credibility with its readers and journalists who work for other papers. It has great credibility with sources. It has its detractors, but these are few and far between for the most part. For the last 80+ years, the Times has been IT in terms of journalistic integrity.

That's why this is appalling. The Times might have followed up with a column that gave a full explanation, but as the most trusted newspaper there is, the Times has got to know how that story is going to read. I agree with the Times that it had to be mentioned in some capacity, because the information was essential to understanding why McCain's advisors were concerned about his situation.

But a paper, any paper, has to make sure that what they say can be taken in only one way. If the American public can interpret something as scandalous, it usually will. The Times has to know this. The paper has earned credibility by checking and double-checking its work to make sure it is both clear and accurate. That allows it to survive the occasional mistake, but the paper has to do better than that. Because it is the gold standard, the Times is held to the highest standards, and something confusing just isn't good enough for it.

My time is up. You've all been great. Enjoy Nickel Creek.

1 comment:

o0Mione0o said...

This is a very interesting topic as of late. Thank you for devoting a post to it. I will be looking for followups to this story in the news. It reminds me in some small sense of the Watergate issue; however, nothing can truly compare to the barriers that the Washington Post had to plow through to get the story, even when competition, fellow employees and the Nixon administration were all criticizing the paper for its watchdog tactics.
Although, I do admit the story to be a rash publication on the part of the Times. I do understand that journalism is a business as well. What I can gather from Stuart Loory (current professor at the University, with top notch journalistic credentials in both print and broadcast) the Times believed its competition was about to publish the story and jumped on it to get the scoop.
What should people sacrifice the expedient ways of news businesses to get information out to the people with some error or should the presses slow down to give more depth and perception and accuracy?