Sunday, August 29, 2010

Former KC Star publisher writes first column as New York Times public editor

Former Kansas City Star Publisher Arthur Brisbane made his debut today as the new public editor of the New York Times.

His job, essentially, is to represent the public and explore what the Times does right and what it does wrong:

Wounded lovers, armed antagonists — alike they hold The Times to the high standards that have been in place since long before the digital age. “The acceleration of the news pace,” Mr. Keller said, “increases the risk that we will fall short of our standards. That calls for greater vigilance, not lower standards.”

This sets a huge challenge for the organization. News delivered digitally in rapid cycles — with much less time for editing and oversight — will create more lapses. It is simply physics.

The cure, or at least a salve, for this condition is transparency, accountability, humility. If The Times is going to publish more and faster, it will have to react faster to rectify more mistakes. The speed and volume of correction or response has to try to equal the speed and volume of error.

Is that where things stand now? I will have to see for myself. To fulfill the public editor’s charge, I plan to write columns and blog posts, publish readers’ letters, reply to readers privately, and otherwise mediate an exchange between The Times and its audience.

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