Saturday, September 17, 2005

Paul Krugman rebuked by NYT public editor

Byron Calame, the New York Times public editor, has publicly rebuked Paul Krugman and the New York Times Gail Collins, editor of the editorial page.

Thomas Lifson gives us the details: "Byron Calame, the New York Times public editor, may be starting to grow a spine. I am reminded of the pictures of young in utero babies, as they start to differentiate and a skeleton appears first with the spine. It's all very discreet, of course. Buried in the "Public Editor's Web Journal online.'"

Here is what was posted by Byron Calame in his web journal:
Columnist Correction Policy Isn't Being Applied to Krugman

An Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times who makes an error "is expected to promptly correct it in the column." That's the established policy of Gail Collins, editor of the editorial page. Her written policy encourages "a uniform approach, with the correction made at the bottom of the piece."

Two weeks have passed since my previous post spelled out the errors made by columnist Paul Krugman in writing about news media recounts of the 2000 Florida vote for president. Mr. Krugman still hasn't been required to comply with the policy by publishing a formal correction. Ms. Collins hasn't offered any explanation.

As a result, readers of who simply search for "Krugman" won't find any indication that there are uncorrected errors in the columns the query turns up. Nor will those who access Mr. Krugman's columns in an electronic database such as Nexis or Factiva. Corrections would have been appended in all those places if Mr. Krugman had complied with Ms. Collins' policy and corrected the errors in his column in the print version of The Times. (Essentially, to become part of the official archive of The Times, material has to have been published in the print paper.)

All Mr. Krugman has offered so far is a faux correction. Each Op-Ed columnist has a page in that includes his or her past columns and biographical information. Mr. Krugman has been allowed to post a note on his page that acknowledges his initial error, but doesn't explain that his initial correction of that error was also wrong. Since it hasn't been officially published, that posting doesn't cause the correction to be appended to any of the relevant columns.

If the problem is that Mr. Krugman doesn't want to give up precious space in his column for a correction, there are alternatives. Perhaps some space could be found elsewhere on the Op-Ed page so that readers - especially those using electronic versions of his pieces - could get the accurate information they deserve.

A bottom-line question: Does a corrections policy not enforced damage The Times's credibility more than having no policy at all?.
While the New York Times public editor (Byron Calame) may be growing a spine, it remains to be seen if the editorial page editor (Gail Collins) has grown one.

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