Monday, June 20, 2005

Post Dispatch's Soeteber & Robbins Apologize For Professional Failures

In the Sunday edition of the Post Dispatch Ellen Soeteber Editor, and Arnie Robbins Managing Editor, made a very rare appearance aside from their standard editorial work on the editorial page when and if they write one. I have no idea since the editorial pages in all newspapers don't include the name of the person who wrote the Op-Ed piece. More on that later.

An Apology

Under the headline of "Editor's Note", Soeteber & Robbins write a correction to the Joyce Meyer Ministries series they ran. It ran over four days and got a great deal of ink. I did not read the articles but remember them being the major theme covered over the four days it ran. I glanced at it but it sounded like the "Television Evangelist raking in the cash under the guise of religion" story, which did not really catch my attention.

In their correction, Soeteber & Robbins reveal that stories contained errors. They reveal that they received complaints from the Meyers ministry about factual issues in the stories. That they (The Post) "discovered references that need to be corrected or clarified", and that "the two articles did not meet our standard for fairness and accuracy".

The correction states "the Post-Dispatch is taking corrective action to address the professional failures that led to these errors". They then close the correction by saying "We know that mistakes erode our credibility and compromise our journalism. Our goal is to make our news coverage accurate, fair, and trustworthy" (excuse me while I vomit). "We apologize to you, our reader, for the journalistic transgressions in the May 1 and April 18 article".

I wonder just how bad this might be given that Soeteber and Robbins don't do this kind of thing very often from what I have seen. Usually corrections are left to the correction page. I wonder what makes this correction worthy of an "Editor Note"? It's some pretty strong verbiage that's for sure, so it must be really bad, have some real hot and heavy heat coming from the Meyers camp, or both.

For the record, I don't find the Post's news fair or trustworthy by the way, its way to politically biased to achieve that worthy goal. And if you have a politically biased newspaper I can see where "accurate information" can become a problem from time to time................................

Back to the Editorial Gems offered up anonymously, why is that? I suppose many years ago there was probably something to be gained by allowing the Editorial Board to write Op-Ed without attaching their name. Hard issues that would not be discussed without the name being withheld I can see needing some protection in the past. However I don't see any justification for that now. I really just see it as being unaccountable now. If you think about it the Post journalist pen their name to every article they cover outside the Editorials. The hard, divisive, and critical articles they may cover all contain their name and contact info. So why not apply the same standard to the Editorial Board? I think that appling the same accountability to the Editorial Staff that the rank in file are held to with their name attached might help newspapers gain back some of the seriously lost creditability over the past several years. That along with hiring some right of center Editors and Management................

There is one thing less accountable than an Op-Ed piece in the newspaper done under a blank author name, which is a blogger without their name on their blog or a ghost name. An editor, publisher, and writer of a blog that does not put their name on their publication simply can not be taken seriously................................