« AP Photographer Kidnapped, Released in Gaza | Main | Released AP Photographer Recounts His Ordeal »

October 25, 2006

At LA Times, Op-Ed Inaccuracies, Explained

LA Times Header2.jpe

This week, as the Los Angeles Times changed the placement of its opinion sections, editors went to the trouble to explain the mission and criteria for publication for the Op-Eds, letters, and editorials. Significantly, the word "accuracy," or any derivative thereof, did not appear even once in the multiple pieces.

For instance, Nicholas Goldberg, editor of the Op-Ed page and the Current section, explains:

Our mandate, as we see it, is straightforward: to provide provocative, thoughtful commentary that is reasoned yet opinionated on a wide variety of subjects. The page itself has no ideological bent or political agenda; we want to provide the broadest possible range of opinions -- from the left, from the right and, we hope, from authors whose politics are much harder to pigeonhole. . . .

The only unifying characteristic (we hope) is that all our pieces have an idea behind them and a point of view [CAMERA adds: but not necessarily facts], and that they all stimulate some kind of intellectual engagement with the subject. . . .

Our job -- providing provocative, readable and substantive essays seven days a week-- is challenging . . .

Thus, the LA Times' opinions section values diversity, provocativeness, and readability--all good things--but does not value accuracy. In this context, the publication of Saree Makdisi's grossly inaccurate Op-Ed Saturday comes as no surprise.

Goldberg's explanatory column stands in stark contrast to that of his New York Times counterpart, David Shipley, who wrote in 2005 about how Op-Eds are edited at the Gray Lady. He explains that the opinion editor will:

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.

In 2004, the New York Times then-public editor, Daniel Okrent, also underscored the importance of accuracy on the opinions page.

LA Times readers take note: While the Op-Ed pages at the LA paper might be a good read, they aren't an accurate one.

Posted by TS at October 25, 2006 06:38 AM


Guidelines for posting

This is a moderated blog. We will not post comments that include racism, bigotry, threats, or factually inaccurate material.

Post a comment

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)