The New York Times’ public editor Arthur Brisbane has weighed in on the Lolo Jones piece that ran in the Times on Sunday, after receiving plenty of public comment. (Here was my assessment). Brisbane’s role is more similar to that of an ombudsman, commenting on pieces that run in the Times.
He notes that this piece ran in a section that included Opinion, but:
I have written in the past about problems that arise with this approach, which sometimes translates into too much opinion appearing in the news columns. In this particular case, I think the writer was particularly harsh, even unnecessarily so.
The aftermath of the Jones piece, and her Olympics appearance, finishing fourth, raised plenty of issues. Some people pointed out that her finishing just outside of the bronze medal somehow validated the criticism that appeared in the New York Times’ piece. I fail to see that as the case.
Of course, we wouldn’t be talking about this piece if the writer wasn’t, in his own public editor’s eyes, “quite harsh.” Had he written a piece about Dawn Harper, or a more neutral piece about Lolo Jones, fewer people are talking about it. You can choose to castigate the media for the portrayal and attention paid to Jones. I promise you that is a chicken or the egg thing. Media sometimes covers things to extremes, sometimes, the public attention for things is extreme, and out of balance with, say, who won what medal, and the media simply responds to that attention. The NY Times did so, embarking on a topic that was generating views, and did so in a way that drew attention. One might call it a cynical effort, and one that paid off, even if the public editor now joins the opinion of throngs of people who apparently wrote in to the Times.
[photo via US Presswire]