The New York Times has a new Public Editor, Margaret Sullivan, former editor of the Buffalo News, which is a decent paper, and I have hope that she’ll do better than the last idiot who held the job. She’s got a heavy lift, though, especially with “he-said/she-said”, because it’s such an ingrained reflex:
The national editor, Sam Sifton, rejected the argument. “There’s a lot of reasonable disagreement on both sides,” he said. One side says there’s not significant voter fraud; the other side says there’s not significant voter suppression.
“It’s not our job to litigate it in the paper,” Mr. Sifton said. “We need to state what each side says.”
Mr. Bronner [the reporter who wrote the story] agreed. “Both sides have become very angry and very suspicious about the other,” he said. “The purpose of this story was to step back and look at both sides, to lay it out.” While he agreed that there was “no known evidence of in-person voter fraud,” and that could have been included in this story, “I don’t think that’s the core issue here.
How do you get to “stating the truth”, which Sullivan thinks is a good idea, when reporters believe that including a fact that undercuts one side’s position is “not part of the core issue”? It seems like every time someone scratches the surface of a “he-said/she-said” issue by talking to working reporter at one of these big papers, their response is almost too depressing to contemplate.