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July 31, 2005

How Op-Eds Are Edited (Or Not) in the New York Times

The editor of the New York Times Op-Ed page, David Shipley, has written an op-ed of his own, setting forth the guidelines presumably followed in editing a commentary article:

Here are the clear-cut things the editor will do:

• Correct grammatical and typographical errors.

• Make sure that the article conforms to The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage. Courtesy titles, for example, will miraculously appear if they weren't there before; expletives will be deleted; some words will be capitalized, others lowercased.

• See to it that the article fits our allotted space. With staff columnists, advertisements and illustrations, there's a limit to the number of words we can squeeze onto the page.

• Fact-check the article. While it is the author's responsibility to ensure that everything written for us is accurate, we still check facts - names, dates, places, quotations.

We also check assertions. If news articles - from The Times and other publications - are at odds with a point or an example in an essay, we need to resolve whatever discrepancy exists.

Strange. There was certainly no such oversight several months ago when the Times published an op-ed on October 4, 2004 by PLO legal advisor Michael Tarazi. The commentary, entitled “Two Peoples, One State,” which called for the dissolution of the Jewish state was filled with false assertions and errors which the Times refused to correct. For a discussion of these errors and the attitude of the editors, read "The Worst of Times" by CAMERA Director Andrea Levin.

The Times allowed Tarazi to fill his op-ed with false assertions

Perhaps Mr. Shipley has had a change of heart. Let us hope so.

Posted by RH at July 31, 2005 04:57 PM


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