Not Such a Good Idea | Bleader

Not Such a Good Idea

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Here's a recent New York Times story in which a startling quote appears. The story reports on a new arrangement that has the six Gannett newspapers in New Jersey carrying articles on the New Jersey Devils hockey team that are written by an employee of the Devils. Commented the Times, which could have been forgiven stronger language, "It puts the papers in the odd position of publishing news coverage supplied by the entity being covered."

But Hollis Towns, executive editor of the Asbury Park Press, the largest of the papers, says not to worry. He told the Times, “As long as it served our readers and we told them where that content was coming from, the readers were fine with it. I think journalists get hung up on certain lines of what’s ethical more than the readers.”

I wish some snappy comeback from Immanuel Kant or Walter Lippmann came to mind, but I'm going to have to settle for Vladimir Horowitz. He was merely a pianist, but he supposedly said, "If I don't practice for a day, I know it. If I don't practice for two days, my wife knows it. If I don't practice for three days, the world knows it."

The larger point here is that professionals had damn well better be more sensitive to their own negligence than the public is. By the time Towns's readers begin protesting that his paper has trashed its integrity, he'll have a problem on his hands it'll probably be too late to solve.

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