February 23, 2005

New York Times won't print critical letters

I did not know that: A friend writes:

The NY Times is actually (I think) pretty much unique in having an official policy against ever printing a letter that disputes the accuracy of a Times story. Their rather doubtful reasoning is that any inaccuracy should be dealt with through a correction rather than a letter.

I discovered this surprising aspect a few years ago when one of their stories dealing peripherally with some of my own activities mischaracterized me... Naturally, I sent a letter politely pointing out their mistake, thinking there was a reasonable chance it might be published.

Instead, a few days later I was very much surprised to receive a personal call from the reporter involved, who explained their absolute policy against printing correction letters and also the long and complicated steps I'd have to go through to attempt to get a formal correction issued (and since so few corrections are ever issued, it was clear such a result would be a huge black mark against his personal career at the Times). Since the fellow seemed quite apologetic, the mistake had merely been a careless one, and my mention was only peripheral, I gladly let him off the hook.


No comments: