Saturday, April 11, 2009

If you are criticized from multiple sides, does that mean you are right?

All Things Considered indulged in running this on Friday during their letters section:
Kevin Bee from New Orleans was reading other's online post and he writes this, one listener claimed that you were being too sympathetic to the Israeli cause by not highlighting Israel's aggression that started the conflict. Another listener suggested that you were sympathetic to Palestine by ignoring the violence caused by suicide bombers. In my opinion, he writes, if both extremes accuse you of being biased, it proves you are doing a good job, keep up the good work.

We've heard this line too many times, on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and otherwise. During the Gaza war, NYT Managing Editor Jill Abramson wrote "I see a backwards vote of confidence in The Times’s reporting, given that every identifiable faction in this fractured collision of peoples and injustices believes so firmly that we are taking a side — someone else’s."

This idea is stupid. There are plenty of things in the world, news articles or other things, that are criticized from a variety of sides, and are in fact bad. The good news is, some in the news biz are pushing back.

NYT Public Editor Clark Hoyt wrote this in response to Abramson: "It can be risky for editors and reporters to think that if everyone in a dispute is angry with them, then they must be doing something right."

And just the other week, NYT Foreign Editor Susan Chira wrote: ".. we do not lull ourselves into believing that just because both sides are angry at us, we are off the hook — to borrow a coinage from James Bennet, a former Jerusalem bureau chief .."


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