NY Times Editor Praises Paper's 'Rigorous Standards,' Denounces Bloggers

October 11th, 2005 2:00 PM

New York Times executive editor Bill Keller spoke on a wide range of issues during a lunch with members of the Association of National Advertisers.

The Times' top newsman said that the news business is the only industry where "people who make the product are kept from the people who sell it." There is "put up a kind of wall" between the salespeople and the journalists. This is the ideal situation, although "some corporate relations people understand it through gritted teeth." Keller compared this to "the way Presidents respect the Constitution."

Keller had very little respect for bloggers.

"Most of what you know, you know because of the mainstream media," Keller said. "Bloggers recycle and chew on the news. That's not bad. But it's not enough."

Maintaining a Baghdad bureau in 2004 cost $1.5 million, and says Keller, "This kind of civic labor can't be replaced by bloggers."

Keller cited more items to prove that the New York Times was better than bloggers. Some of the points he cited were laughable considering the paper's reputation of late, especially when discussing the Times' "rigorous set of standards."

"A worldwide network of trained, skilled [observers] to witness events" and write about them, and "a rigorous set of standards. A journalism of verification," rather than of "assertion," and maintaining an "agnosticism" as to where any story may lead. And he said the Times practiced "transparency," or, in math-teacher terms, "we show our work."

Although critics are constantly telling Keller to "give it up" and "embrace your biases," he says, "I object. It's like saying since genetics account for so much, we should abandon being parents." He says some people want the Times to admit its biases because "a lot of people want journalism that thrills them by telling them what they believe."

The newsman claimed Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly were both performers and that he didn't know what their true views were. As for O'Reilly, Keller claimed that the Fox host denounced the paper so many times, "if he didn't have The New York Times, he might be selling Ginsu knives on late-night TV."

As for Fox News' slogan, "fair and balanced," Keller labeled it "the most ingeniously cynical slogan" in media marketing.

That's more than what can be said for "all the news that's fit to print."