Sunday, June 26, 2011

Is the N.Y. Times taking itself too seriously in the digital age?

The New York Times public editor -- a sort of ombudsman -- often shares interesting insights in his column that runs every Sunday. He chases down editors and reporters to answer readers' complaints. But this week's column seems to be in a bit of a time warp in the humble view of this Platenguys correspondent.

The column deals with the challenges its first female editor, Jill Abramson, will face in dealing with the digital edition when she takes over this fall.

"Unlike print, digital news is often updated throughout the day and night, sometimes many times. Versions evolve and sometimes morph into something quite different. Mistakes happen and are fixed. How The Times tracks and manages this can be very confusing," he writes (breathlessly no doubt).

Really? What he describes has been a way of life for generations at the wire services such as AP, Reuters and UPI and at broadcast news enterprises. Anyone who has toiled for any of these will get a chuckle out of the column. It seems nothing happens until it happens at The Times. But it is definitely happening because, as he notes, the new editor spent several months with a committee examining the question of how to update the news.

The Times is an excellent newspaper. We just wish they would not take themselves so seriously. The world HAS changed.

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