Accuracy in Media

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According to a story by The New York Observer’s Ken Kurson, resentment by reporters of the editorial page at The New York Times has reached the boiling point, and they blame editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal for the bad blood.

Kurson spoke with more than two dozen current and former Times staffers who cited numerous examples of problems at the paper, with Rosenthal getting the lion’s share of the blame:

‘He runs the show and is lazy as all get-out,’ says a current Times writer, and one can almost hear the Times-ness in his controlled anger (who but a Timesman uses the phrase ‘as all get-out’ these days?). Laziness and bossiness are unattractive qualities in any superior, but they seem particularly galling at a time when the Times continues to pare valued staffers via unending buyouts.

The buyouts seem to be a sore point with the reporters, with one telling the Observer that Rosenthal has a staff of 14 to 15 people to work on three unsigned editorials per day, that are usually “poorly written and totally ineffectual,” and cost the Times millions of dollars a year to produce.

While Rosenthal bore the brunt of the criticism, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Tom Friedman also came under attack.

I just think it’s bad, and nobody is acknowledging that they suck, but everybody in the newsroom knows it, and we really are embarrassed by what goes on with Friedman. I mean anybody who knows anything about most of what he’s writing about understands that he’s, like, literally mailing it in from wherever he is on the globe. He’s a travel reporter. A joke. The guy gets $75,000 for speeches and probably charges the paper for his first-class airfare.

Executive Editor Jill Abramson responded to the allegations in an email to Capital New York.

Andy Rosenthal is my cherished colleague and the editorial page he runs (independently of the newsroom as has been true at The New York Times forever) serves as the good conscience of our readers, always topical and urgent and compelling, more so under Andy’s leadership than any editor I can name. Reporters here cherish Andy’s good humor and his bonhomie. As someone who has also been falsely portrayed recently, I can say as a voice of experience that this article bears no relationship to reality.

While the reporters wrath may be partly attributable to sour grapes after years of cutbacks, the charges that Rosenthal is petty and tyrannical is remarkably similar to how his father, Abe, who was the Times’ executive editor from 1977 to 1988, was described in Joe Goulden’s book Fit to Print more than 25 years ago.

Apparently the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.




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