Monday, November 14, 2005

Even the Grey Lady Makes Mistakes

When I was a working journalist, we all talked about the New York Times as if it were the very pinnacle of journalism. It would be cool to work at the Times, we thought. And I have remained a supporter of the Times even through the Jayson Blair scandal.

This week, however, the Times covered an Ohio State story, specifically the off-campus weekly paper taking on The Lantern, OSU's student newspaper. The story is poorly written and has several factual errors. Ugh. Maybe the Times and the Sun-News are not so different after all. This was no A1 story, so it did not have the Times' best people. As a former copy editor, I know the Times copy desk did not have time to check every fact.

But perhaps most shocking to me is that they let a stupid apples and oranges comparison go. A local advertiser noted that a full-page ad in The Lantern costs almost twice as much as a full-page in the competitor. That's all well and good, except for the little fact that The Lantern is a broadsheet while the competitor is a tabloid. This means that a full-page ad in The Lantern is twice as big as a similar ad in the competitor. Copy editors should live to catch this garbage. This is the kind of thing slacker reporters do all the time, and it is the kind of thing any slot editor should have caught ... especially one at the New York Times.


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