Keeping Readers In the Dark

Clark Hoyt, Public Editor of the New York Times, devotes today’s column to reader reaction to last week’s semi-mea culpa on the ACORN story. Readers’ comments divide about as you would expect, but Hoyt’s basic point is sound:

When The Times misses or is slow on a story that is boiling elsewhere — and Acorn was having real-world impact, with Congressional votes and a criminal investigation — it lets its readers down.

Hoyt cites these emails examples of readers who felt “let down”:

Here’s an example, from Leigh Allen of San Francisco, who said she relies on The Times to keep her informed: “I often don’t hear about the latest conflict until I read a Facebook rant from an old high school friend or talk on the phone with my mother (both in conservative Orange County, Calif.). It’s embarrassing not to be able to respond with facts when I hadn’t even heard about the issue.” Michele Cusack of Novato, Calif., said that when someone asked if she had heard the latest about Acorn, “I had to answer ‘no’ because I get all my news from The New York Times.”

“I had to answer ‘no’ because I get all my news from the New York Times.” That could be the paper’s epitaph.

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