New York Times Managing Editor Bill Keller let slip to the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz that New York Times stories normally deliver “a little editorial elbow in the ribs,” so the lack of a pointed theme was “kind of liberating” in a Times series which won a Pulitzer Prize. The top level Times editor conceded to Kurtz that stories in the New York paper usually have followed a formula in which they “build up to a fourth or fifth paragraph where the writer stood back, cleared his throat and told you what to think.”
The quotes from Keller came buried in the middle of Kurtz’s April 17 Washington Post story on who won the Pulitzer Prizes this year. The “Grapevine” segment of Tuesday night’s Special Report with Brit Hume on FNC picked up on Keller’s concession that his reporters have an agenda.
An excerpt from the relevant portion of Kurtz’s article:
The New York Times award for national reporting was based on a 15-part series on racial tensions in America, ranging from a slaughterhouse, a church and a tank battalion to the set of an HBO film.
Managing Editor Bill Keller called the project, which “took 15 reporters out of commission for well over a year,” an attempt “to get as deep into the lives of people in interracial relationships as we could. It was extremely hard.”
Keller said the Times decided not to have each piece “build up to a fourth or fifth paragraph where the writer stood back, cleared his throat and told you what to think. We trusted readers would draw their own conclusions and maybe disagree.” For a newspaper that specializes in “giving you a little editorial elbow in the ribs,” he said, the lack of a pointed theme was “kind of liberating.”
The Pulitzer for beat reporting went to David Cay Johnston of the New York Times for exposing the proliferation of corporate tax shelters and loopholes.
If it’s so “liberating,” perhaps they should try it more often.
Gumbel Believes Meritocracy Rules Only in Sports
“Meritocracy” rules no where in American society outside of sports, Bryant Gumbel chortled on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel on Monday night. The CBS Early Show co-host anchors the once-a-month HBO news magazine show about sports.
Following a piece by Bernard Goldberg on the perspective of white players who are rare in the black-dominated NBA, Gumbel asked Goldberg if white American players are “viewed differently” than are white European players in the NBA.
Goldberg replied that the European players who excel have earned respect since “once you prove yourself in the NBA, it doesn’t matter if you’re from Kansas or from Yugoslavia, you’re accepted because I think in basketball, and in sports in general, it is a meritocracy. And once you prove yourself, that’s good enough for everybody. Race really isn’t that important if you’re good.”
Gumbel retorted: “If that’s the case, it may be the only place in America that it works.”
Maybe Gumbel is on to something. Isn't he an example of how meritocracy rules in network television news?
(This report courtesy of the Media Research Center.)