By Colby Cosh - Sunday, September 23, 2012 - 0 Comments
In January, the Globe and Mail appointed longtime editor and correspondent Sylvia Stead its first “public editor”. What say we pause right there, before we go any further? The job of “public editor” is one most closely associated with the New York Times, which has had five different people doing the job since it created a post with that title in 2003—soon after the Jayson Blair fabrication scandal. The function of the public editor at the Times, as the title suggests, is to advocate for journalism ethics, fairness, and proper practice on behalf of the paper’s readership, dealing with concerns and challenges as they arise.
To that end, the Times—quite naturally, one would think—has always recruited people for the job who haven’t been associated with the Times for their entire adult lives, but who do have some knowledge of journalism and non-fiction practice. The first Times public editor was Daniel Okrent, a legendary book and magazine editor. The new one, Margaret Sullivan, has been associated with the Warren Buffett-owned Buffalo News since 1980.
The Times is probably careful about this because it created the “public editor” job in the wake of a serious credibility crisis. It could ill afford to choose somebody who had grown up in the Times cocoon and was an irrecoverable permanent hostage to old friendships, work relationships, and office politics. In fact, it would be fair for you, dear reader, to ask the question “Why would you?” Why wouldn’t you hire someone with some independent standing to represent the public, if you were serious about it?
Well: those last six words bring us to Ms. Stead’s remarkable papal bull, published Friday, concerning Globe columnist Margaret Wente. Continue…
By Lianne George - Friday, August 28, 2009 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
Newsmakers of the week
Atwood nuts, rejoice
Canadian novelist and soothsayer Margaret Atwood has embarked on an international tour to promote her latest book, The Year of the Flood. As part of her campaign, she will be writing a blog to keep fans up to date on her toing and froing. In her inaugural posting, she welcomes her visitors with a photo: “Here is a picture of me in the garden with giant phlox, before starting out. Will I shrink during the tour? Will I survive it?” She also lays out some ground rules for making her tour as green as possible—for instance, placing special emphasis on train travel, local foods and organic, fair-trade coffees. She plans to pack light: “think pink, pack black. It dirts less.” Finally, she says she will take “the VegiVows” for the duration of her tour, “with the exception of non-avian and non-mammalian bioforms once a week.” She will, however, permit eggs, “viewed as a sort of nut.”
Swedish for retaliation
When the Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet ran an article accusing Israeli troops of killing Palestinian youths to harvest and sell their organs, Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu compared the allegations to medieval “blood libels,” which claimed that Jews used the blood of Christian babies in holy rituals. “Statements in the Swedish press were outrageous,” an official quoted Netanyahu as saying. “We are not expecting an apology—we are expecting a condemnation.” Swedish officials have so far refused to condemn the article. Until they do, Israel is prohibiting any new Swedish journalists from entering the country, which is small comfort to many angry Israelis. Concerned citizens have launched an online petition to go after the Swedes where it hurts—a nationwide boycott of Ikea. Continue…