NYT’s business editor ups ante on public editor

The business editor of the New York Times has gone public with a complaint about the public editor’s criticism of business coverage.

Public Editor Art Brisbane’s August 28 column “was so absurd and so poorly reasoned that I felt compelled to write a response,” wrote Business Editor Larry Ingrassia in a memo he forwarded to media blogger Jim Romenesko.

The newspaper’s editor and the public editor often are at odds, but the Romenesko posting seemed to up the ante.

At issue is the newspaper’s increased focus on Wall Street insider coverage in print and online under the “DealBook” label. Brisbane questioned whether other coverage has suffered as a result.

“When the world economic system shuddered and stock markets dropped,” Brisbane wrote, “I was left wondering whether The Times should spend its money not on expanding DealBook but on enlarging its stable of journalists aimed at the wider subjects of international banks and sovereign debt.”

Ingrassia replied that the column “left me wondering how closely you read the Times — or at least our financial coverage.”

Public Affairs journalism students should read Brisbane’s column and Ingrassia’s memo. Which argument is stronger? Is this an internal cat fight, or are there wider journalistic issues?

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3 Comments on “NYT’s business editor ups ante on public editor”

  1. WIL PETTY says:

    It comes across to me as immature on both sides. If two editors disagree with each other they should reason it out and not make it public. It is as if the two editors are becoming the news instead of writing the news. That’s not to say, if one has a feeling on something they shouldn’t write an opinion, but there’s no sense in calling out your fellow staffers in one of the world’s most prestigious publications.

    As far as who is right? Well Ingrassia does back up the fact that there have been many things published about the European financial crisis. And there is also the point that if you write in New York, Wall Street takes precedence over anything else in the financial world. But Brisbane nor Ingrassia should have taken their disagreements with one another to the public.

  2. tmh1121 says:

    I think that this is a perfect example of what we’ve been discussing in class lately–the crisis over journalistic purpose. These two journalists are shifting from the hard news into a small gossipy argument that will, in fact, draw readers. As we have all seen, celebrity (even journalists) gossip gains a lot of attention and readership, which equals dollars in today’s industry. I think it is also a question of do you describe your readers as consumers–in which case this argument is reasonable news, or citizens–in which case this is an internal cat fight of non-newsworthy subject.

  3. niswatson says:

    This is clearly something that should have never reached the internet. Two journalists having an issue over the record of what “was or wasn’t” reported and how it should be handled is immaturity. It presents itself as an embarassment for the NYT. For two employees to settle a spat using memos targeted at one another is simply childish and wrong. For someone who has read the NYT religiously over the last two years, Ingrassia is absolutely correct. It seemed as if almost once per week the top flap of the front page would cover the lack of business confidence and crippled global markets: the point was well made. The arc of the issue seems to be catty, but perhaps the underlying concept that Brisbane didn’t fully express is the business model. It sits on the backburner for all journalists, and perhaps he was trying to vent on the addition of new journalists and the underreporting that seems to exist(at least for him) on international instead of national business coverage.


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