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James Ottaway Sr. Endowed Professorship

The New York Times Public Editor Columns of Byron Calame

The New Public Editor: Toward Greater Transparency
The New York Times, 5 June 2005, 1476 words,
IT'S time to write Chapter 2 of the public editor chronicles at The New York Times. Recently retired after almost 40 years at The Wall Street Journal, I've agreed to become The Times's second public editor -- an outsider dedicated to ...

The Thinking Behind a Close Look at a C.I.A. Operation
The New York Times, 19 June 2005, 1489 words,
A STRIKING number of readers have denounced The New York Times for describing the Central Intelligence Agency's covert air operations for transporting suspected terrorists in a Page 1 article on May 31.

Pictures, Labels, Perception and Reality
The New York Times, 3 July 2005, 1500 words,
TO be truly worth a thousand words, some pictures need just a few more. I'm referring to labeling images in The New York Times -- the words that explain who made the image and how it was created. This credit usually appears in smaller ...

When an Explanation Doesn't Explain Enough
The New York Times, 17 July 2005, 1325 words,
UPHOLDING the journalistic integrity of The New York Times requires a lot of care. Maintaining the perception of journalistic integrity can require even more care.

Outside Contributors: In The Times, but Not of The Times
The New York Times, 14 August 2005, 1456 words,
THE bylines and photo credits in today's Travel section look no different than those throughout the newspaper. Yet nonstaff contributors produced every major feature article and almost all the photographs in the section. Or consider a ...

A Conversation With the Standards Editor
The New York Times, 28 August 2005, 1907 words,
THE standards editor of The New York Times, ensconced in the midst of the newsroom, plays a crucial role in the daily process of publishing the paper. His responsibility is to maintain and police the paper's journalistic ethics, accuracy, ...

Covering New Orleans: The Decade Before the Storm
The New York Times, 11 September 2005, 1514 words,
THE early coverage of the devastation of New Orleans revealed a depth of poverty and a troubled levee system that caught many by surprise. As a national newspaper with high aspirations, The New York Times assumes a responsibility to alert ...

Even Geraldo Deserves a Fair Shake
The New York Times, 25 September 2005, 1522 words,
ONE of the real tests of journalistic integrity is being fair to someone who might be best described by a four-letter word. The New York Times flunked such a test in rejecting a demand by Geraldo Rivera of Fox News for correction of a ...

Turning the Tables: What the Times News Staff Thinks of You
The New York Times, 9 October 2005, 1580 words, (English)
IF you are reading these words, it means you are one of the millions of readers of The New York Times whose desires and dislikes are never far from the minds of the paper's editors and reporters. How they envision you and your fellow ...

The Miller Mess: Lingering Issues Among the Answers
The New York Times, 23 October 2005, 1665 words,
THE good news is that the bad news didn't stop The New York Times from publishing a lengthy front-page article last Sunday about the issues facing Judith Miller and the paper, or from pushing Ms. Miller to give readers a first-person ...

Cracks in the Wall Between Advertising and News
The New York Times, 6 November 2005, 1262 words,
WEAK advertising demand and higher costs are squeezing most newspapers these days. The New York Times Company's sharp drop in third-quarter earnings and its plan to eliminate hundreds of jobs provide ample evidence of the revenue-cost pinch ...

Anonymity: Who Deserves It?
The New York Times, 20 November 2005, 1486 words,
JOURNALISTIC integrity issues involving confidential sources have given The New York Times plenty of headaches in recent years. So it's not surprising that the paper's anonymous sourcing guidelines have been getting major attention from ...

When the Newspaper Is the News
The New York Times, 4 December 2005, 1539 words,
Even the best newspapers sometimes have difficulty covering themselves with the same high-quality journalism they offer readers on other topics. Newspapers such as The New York Times could better serve readers by seeking innovative ways to ...

The Book Review: Who Critiques Whom -- and Why?
The New York Times, 18 December 2005, 1523 words,
WHEN The New York Times Book Review published its list of ''100 Notable Books of the Year'' earlier this month, calculations from several readers and bloggers soon turned up in my in-box. Of the 61 nonfiction books on the list, they noted, ...

Behind the Eavesdropping Story, a Loud Silence
The New York Times, 1 January 2006, 1653 words,
THE New York Times's explanation of its decision to report, after what it said was a one-year delay, that the National Security Agency is eavesdropping domestically without court-approved warrants was woefully inadequate. And I have had ...

Doing Good and Telling a Good Story: A Delicate Balance
The New York Times, 15 January 2006, 1259 words,
ONE of the most important articles The Times has published in recent months was the Dec. 19 article about Webcam child pornography and a teenager who had been a part of that world since he was 13.

All the News That Fits the Allocated Space
The New York Times, 29 January 2006, 1537 words,
HOW does The New York Times go about fitting ''All the News That's Fit to Print'' into the paper? The Times has held its annual allocation of space devoted to journalism steady for several years, at a level that appears to reflect a ...

The Case of the Missing Roll-Call Votes
The New York Times, 12 February 2006, 1506 words,
This fall's Congressional elections seem certain to rouse the interest of citizen-readers of The New York Times in the votes their legislators are casting in Washington. Given a newspaper's fundamental role in helping readers hold lawmakers ...

Are Good Deals for Staffers a Bad Deal for Readers?
The New York Times, 26 February 2006, 1508 words,
HERE'S a thorny question: It's not uncommon for corporate employees to get discounts on products from supplier companies, but what sort of pricing favors can news staffers of The New York Times be allowed to accept without creating the ...

The Conservative Beat: Is It Working?
The New York Times, 12 March 2006, 1474 words, (English)
WHEN The New York Times created a new beat in January 2004 to focus on the coverage of conservatives, it struck me as a move more symbolic than real.

The Wrong Man: Deception, Mistaken Identity and Journalistic Lapses
The New York Times, 26 March 2006, 1583 words, (English)
BAD mistakes happen even at the best newspapers, and public editors should usually watch for patterns rather than single out a specific incident. But when a Times front-page article highlighting the sensitive detainee-abuse aspect of the ...

The Times's New Blogs: More Information, Fewer Filters
The New York Times, 9 April 2006, 1498 words,
BLOGGING has made its way to The New York Times. Across the paper's Web site, blogs run by assigned staffers are posting opinions and information they consider insightful on topics such as dining, wine, real estate and the financial world. ...

Covering the Duke Lacrosse Team Case
The New York Times, 23 April 2006, 1471 words
THE ultimate account of what happened when the mostly white Duke University lacrosse team hired black exotic dancers for a party last month remains to be established.

That First Inkling: The Origins of Enterprise Stories
The New York Times, 7 May 2006, 1443 words, (English)
WHERE do the ideas for stories in The New York Times originate? Beyond the breaking news about events of the day, of which there is generally a lot in The Times, most articles are hatched from an idea. While I'm still fascinated after 40 ...

Landing on Page 1 With Hardly a Wary Eye
The New York Times, 21 May 2006, 1507 words,
AS the old journalism platitude goes, ''If your mother says she loves you, check it out.'' And when there's a story that's likely to make readers go ''Wow!,'' it should be checked twice.

Hillary and Bill: A Relationship Too Political to Be Ignored
The New York Times, 4 June 2006, 1533 words,
COMPLAINTS about the May 23 Page 1 article on Hillary and Bill Clinton add up to one of the most uniformly negative and partisan reader reactions to a Times article during the past year. Most decried as tabloid journalism the story about ...

Preventing a Second Jayson Blair
The New York Times, 18 June 2006, 1572 words,
A staff reporter for The New York Times committed frequent acts of journalistic fraud while covering significant news events in recent months, an investigation by Times journalists has found. The widespread fabrication and plagiarism ...

Secrecy, Security, the President and the Press
The New York Times, 2 July 2006, 1437 words,
THE Bush administration's unusually harsh attacks on The New York Times for exposing a secret banking-data surveillance program have turned a glaring spotlight on the paper's decision to publish the article.

More Flexibility and Reality in Explaining Anonymity
The New York Times, 30 July 2006, 1475 words,
READERS who have peppered the public editor for months with complaints about The New York Times's ''phony'' and ''tortured'' explanations for granting anonymity to sources should be happy. The paper has shifted toward a more flexible -- and ...

Eavesdropping and the Election: An Answer on the Question of Timing
The New York Times, 13 August 2006, 1483 words,
THE NEW YORK TIMES'S Dec. 16 article that disclosed the Bush administration's warrantless eavesdropping has led to an important public debate about the once-secret program. And the decision to write about the program in the face of White ...

Picturing the Conflict: Perspective Versus 'Balance'
The New York Times, 10 September 2006, 1503 words,
FEW issues elicit complaints from readers like the coverage of the Middle East, and a surge in protests was triggered by The Times's use of pictures to convey the story of the recent Hezbollah-Israel conflict. Most of the complaining ...

Drawing a Clearer Line Between News and Opinion
The New York Times, 24 September 2006, 1437 words,
THE NEW YORK TIMES has launched an effort to draw a clearer line between regular articles and opinion in its news pages. But the line turns out to be rather puny -- as if drawn with a hard-leaded pencil when a large-tipped felt marker would ...

Hazarding Personal Opinions in Public Can Be Hazardous for Journalists
The New York Times, 8 October 2006, 1497 words,
A FOUR-MONTH-OLD speech by Linda Greenhouse, The New York Times's much-honored Supreme Court reporter for 28 years, has suddenly raised anew two thorny questions related to the paper's ethics guideline covering the public expression of ...

Can 'Magazines' of The Times Subsidize News Coverage?
The New York Times, 22 October 2006, 1487 words,
A PERFUME critic? Yes, The Times now has one. Chandler Burr's Scent Strip column appears in the high-gloss T: The New York Times Style Magazine, where the often-fluffy lifestyle coverage is a world apart from the kind of journalism in the ...

Listening to Both Sides, in the Pursuit of Fairness
The New York Times, 5 November 2006, 1473 words,
GETTING both sides of a story and sorting them out for readers is the basic job of newspaper reporters and editors. This is a key to creating a newspaper that is fair -- both to readers and to the people and institutions that are the ...

Breaking News: Can Times Quality Be Preserved Online?
The New York Times, 19 November 2006, 1419 words,
FOR more than a century, New York Times reporters covering the newsworthy developments of the day typically focused on having the stories ready by the evening deadlines for the next morning's paper. For the past decade, as the presses ...

Scoops, Impact or Glory: What Motivates Reporters?
The New York Times, 3 December 2006, 1504 words,
SOME readers are convinced that certain reporters at The New York Times are motivated solely by partisan politics. A New Jersey reader's March e-mail, for example, described one reporter as a ''GOP operative/hack-writer'' who ''uncritically ...

Voices of Readers Online, Windows on the Newsroom
The New York Times, 17 December 2006, 1556 words,
Readers of the Web version of The New York Times are being offered a rapidly expanding range of opportunities to interact with editors, reporters and other online users. And they are using it to question, criticize -- and, yes, praise -- ...

Truth, Justice, Abortion and The Times Magazine
The New York Times, 31 December 2006, 1646 words,
THE cover story on abortion in El Salvador in The New York Times Magazine on April 9 contained prominent references to an attention-grabbing fact. ''A few'' women, the first paragraph indicated, were serving 30-year jail terms for having ...

Spotting Freelancer Conflicts: A Solution With Problems
The New York Times, 28 January 2007, 1480 words,
THE ability of The New York Times to maintain its ethical standards among its far-flung outside contributors continues to be a major concern of mine. As these freelancers fill column after column at a lower cost than full-time reporters, ...

Can a 15-Year-Old Be a 'Woman Without a Spouse'?
The New York Times, 11 February 2007, 1535 words,
THE opening paragraph of the article sounded like grown-up stuff: ''For what experts say is probably the first time, more American women are living without a husband than with one, according to a New York Times analysis of census results.'' ...

Approaching Iran Intelligence With Intelligent Skepticism
The New York Times, 25 February 2007, 1484 words,
COVERAGE of the American saber- rattling about Iranian intervention in Iraq posed an important test for The New York Times, given the paper's discredited pre-war articles about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. And it has ...

Reporting the News Even When a Competitor Gets There First
The New York Times, 11 March 2007, 1618 words,
WHY were readers of The New York Times left without a word of news coverage of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center scandal for six days after it had been exposed by The Washington Post? That was the question posed to me in the wake of The ...

Money, a Source and New Questions About a Story
The New York Times, 25 March 2007, 1679 words,
CONTROVERSY is again swirling around The Times's 2005 article about 18-year-old Justin Berry and the Web world of child pornography, where the reporter Kurt Eichenwald discovered him and younger boys under the sway of predatory adults.

The Times's Picture of TV Viewing Is Fuzzier Than It Appears
The New York Times, 8 April 2007, 1541 words,
THE opening paragraph of a Times front page story on March 1 asserted that ABC's ''World News'' had ''scored its second ratings victory in the last three weeks'' over NBC's evening newscast. Splashed across a graphic next to the article ...

Revisiting The Times's Coverage of the Duke Rape Case
The New York Times, 22 April 2007, 1490 words,
THE official declaration of the innocence of three former Duke University lacrosse players accused of sexually assaulting a stripper triggered a flood of critical e-mails to the public editor. Many readers focused their ire on The Times's ...

Final Thoughts About My Tenure and The Times's Future
The New York Times, 6 May 2007, 1542 words,
AS I conclude my tour of duty as the second public editor of The New York Times, here are some final thoughts and concerns about the paper and its journalism that flow from what I've observed over the past two years from my perch outside ...