Follow by Email

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Open Letter to The New York Times: A "Minor" Question of Journalistic Ethics

Open Letter to the Editors of The New York Times

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

Yesterday many of you were copied on an e-mail that I sent to the Public Editor of The New York Times, stating:

It is the purported policy of The New York Times that anonymous sources should be used only as “a last resort when the story is of compelling public interest and the information is not available any other way.” Yet, today we have Roger Cohen stating [in his op-ed "Madam Secretary's Middle East"]:

"'A bit of an epiphany,' in the words of one aide, came in March 2009 on the road to Ramallah. 'We drove in a motorcade and you could see the settlements high up, and the brutality of it was so stark,' this aide said. 'Everyone got quite silent and as we approached Ramallah there were these troops in berets. They were so professional, we thought at first they were Israel Defense Forces. But, no, they were Palestinians, this completely professional outfit, and it was clear this was something new.'"

Maybe Roger would care to tell us the name of this anonymous "aide", who became so upset by the "brutality" of hillside settlements? Also, is this elegant prose truly a verbatim quote, or has it been "dressed up" for publication?

My response to the Cohen op-ed which posed these questions was of course not posted by your "moderators"; however, you can read the content of my comment at: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/

Query: Has the policy of The New York Times changed with respect to the use of anonymous sources? Is such use deemed ethical by The New York Times? I welcome your response.

I have received no response from the Public Editor, and as such, I ask each of you:

- What is the name of Hillary Clinton's anonymous "aide" who provided the quote highlighted by Cohen?

- Was this quote verbatim? (Although I am occasionally interviewed on television, I obviously have much to learn from this honey-tongued "aide", who is steeped in off-the-cuff linguistic style and who should be considered as a replacement for Robert Gibbs.)

- Has the policy of The New York Times changed with respect to the use of anonymous sources? Is it still the policy of The New York Times that anonymous sources should be used only as “a last resort when the story is of compelling public interest and the information is not available any other way”?
For the sake of good order, I would observe that I have contacted the U.S. State Department, and I have also asked them to provide me with the name of the "aide" who provided this quote. In addition, I asked the State Department to confirm that the quote attributed to this "aide" is indicative of the attitude of those surrounding Ms. Clinton and whether Ms. Clinton has indeed lost much of her sympathy for Israel, as alleged by Cohen.

Thank you for your prompt reply.

Yours sincerely,
Jeffrey

1 comment:

  1. "The aid" is even more interesting than it looks based on his style. All he says about Hillary is that they "got silent", and "we thought...". Does Cohen really need a reference to an "aid", whose only important information is that "everyone got quite silent"? Thinking about it, how does it prove that Hillary had an "epiphany"? Since Cohen did not attribute any real information to this aid, he could just make it all up, for eloquence purposes.
    For me, published facts about Hillary's treatment of Netanyahu and Oren are much more telling.

    ReplyDelete