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oh boy oh boy, Okrent's back - Sisyphus Shrugged
Lasciate ogni speranza and put your feet up.
oh boy oh boy, Okrent's back
and he has some interesting insights to share with us (not the sort of thing one shares with mere readers, of course, but some college students fed him)
In his a 38-minute talk and almost a half hour of questions-and-answers in Griffin Hall, Okrent talked mostly about his experiences at The Times, and a bit about the future of newspapers. He said poor press coverage lead to the Iraq war, because “in a time of war, editors being to wear epaulettes on their shoulder” and The Times were not exceptional in jumping on the bandwagon.

See, that's right interesting. It's right interesting because, as public editor of the New York Times, Mr. Okrent burned up an entire column vehemently denying it
ONE of the more persistent criticisms of The Times comes from those who believe the news pages are the designated disseminator of views passed down from the Olympus that is the editorial page. If there's anyone among the 1,200 newsroom employees of The Times who believes this to be true, I've failed as a reporter: in 16 months, I haven't found a soul here who has ever experienced any pressure, or even endured a suggestion, to conform to the opinions expressed on the editorial page.

Hold your hoots. There may be perfectly sensible reasons why some readers believe that the news pages take direction from the editorial page, some of which I've discussed before, particularly the apparently normative, basically liberal worldview of much of the news staff on various social issues and the generally oppositional position toward those in power that typifies modern journalists. There's also the sheer forcefulness of the editorial page's voice, which in recent years has been so assertively left, and which some people unfamiliar with The Times's operations want to believe is the source of the news staff's daily marching orders.

For the record, it just isn't so - not at The Times, not at The Wall Street Journal, not at The Washington Post or at any other American paper that takes its mission seriously. Executive editor Bill Keller and editorial page editor Gail Collins run operations entirely separate from each other. They consciously, even self-consciously, avoid discussing politics or public issues. "We never ever talk about news or the editorials, under any circumstances," Collins told me in an e-mail message. Their weekly meeting with publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. and Times president Scott H. Heekin-Canedy is devoted strictly to company issues. If you don't want to believe this, feel free to be wrong. Or check out the different ways the two departments have treated Condoleezza Rice, or Alan Greenspan, or Judge Charles W. Pickering Sr. (If the Pickering nomination had taken place during my tenure as public editor, I could have flogged the diverging coverage for months.)

But there is, in fact, a permeable membrane not quite separating fact from opinion at The Times, and it resides wholly within Keller's domain
and that membrane has epaulettes on.

Mr. Okrent has, of course, has since packed his integrity into a UHaul and headed down the road to teach Harvard Students how to talk to the little people.

first link via My Left Wing

edit: It's been pointed out at digby's that he was discussing the editorial board in his Times column and most likely discussing news editors in his recent comments. That's most likely true. He also claimed for his reporters an independence from the Time's institutional stance which was evidently not true at all.

In the only known case where a reporter (Ms. Miller) had independence, it was because she was allowed by Mr. Sulzberger to support her pro-war stance without any supervision by editors.

Mr. Okrent had to have known all of this. According to the Times' own coverage, the situation was topic one among staffers. He chose to deny it.