New York Times Public Editor Arthur S. Brisbane's stupid ideas on how to cover the press.

Media criticism.
April 25 2011 3:30 PM

Speak No Evil

Times Public Editor Arthur S. Brisbane's stupid ideas on how to cover the press.

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Nobody deserves the lash more than publishers, editors, reporters, press critics, and public editors. The press corps may squeal bloody murder when tapped, but journalists are a lot tougher about taking criticism and fielding barbed questions than Brisbane suggests. Why? Because the same thing he accuses the Times of doing is what reporters and editors do every day to mayors, police chiefs, the clergy, Wall Street, scientists, captains of industry, foreign dignitaries, judges, teachers, athletes, fashion designers, jailers, revolutionaries, air-traffic controllers, bankers, bakers, firefighters, gurus, poets, inventors, economists, janitors, federal regulators, and others.

Ours is mostly a negative business: We exist to put our finger between the anvil and the falling hammer and come back to tell our audiences how much life hurts. If the dissing and shivving is too much for Brisbane, he should join Up With People.

Final note: Only in Brisbane's dreams is the New York Times so exalted that it must conduct itself in a more gentle and diplomatic fashion than the competition.



What was it that Michael Lacey used to say? "A newspaper is not a Montessori school." Send your aphorisms via email to and point your smartphone app to my Twitter feed. (Email may be quoted by name in "The Fray," Slate's readers' forum; in a future article; or elsewhere unless the writer stipulates otherwise. Permanent disclosure: Slate is owned by the Washington Post Co.)

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