Jere Longman Catches Hell From The New York Times’ Public Editor

Turns out nobody liked Jere Longman’s hit piece on Lolo Jones in the New York Times over the weekend.

That paper’s Public Editor, Art Brisbane, released a response to an avalanche of mail the Times has gotten complaining about Longman’s story, and Brisbane’s communique’ is about as much of a slapdown as you could ever expect from a newspaper critiquing its own writers.

Brisbane’s post at the Times’ web site is entitled Lolo Jones Article Is Too Harsh, and it says the following is what Brisbane is sending out in response to the hate mail the paper is getting from Longman’s piece…

Thanks for your message. I have received several complaints about this. The article by Jere Longman appeared under the Olympics-coverage “In the Rings” signature, which The Times uses to signify that the article is a point-of-view piece and not straight news coverage. This means, in The Times’s style, that the writer has some latitude to insert his own perspective.

I have written in the past about problems that arise with this approach, which sometimes translates into too much opinion appearing in the news columns. In this particular case, I think the writer was particularly harsh, even unnecessarily so.

I queried the sports editor about it, and his response was that “One person’s harsh is another person’s tough minded,” and that the writer, “while acknowledging Jones’s accomplishment and qualities of perseverance and candor, thinks this female athlete fell short.”

I believe writers like Jere Longman, who does have a long and worthy track record at The Times, should have some room to express their hard-earned perspective. But this piece struck me as quite harsh and left me, along with others, wondering why the tone was so strong.

Thanks for expressing your view. The sports desk is certainly aware at this point that a number of readers were unhappy about the piece.


Art Brisbane
public editor

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