NEW YORK CITY (Roto Reuters) Due to a recent controversy with the New York Times ombudsman Barney Calame the executive editor and the publisher have decided on adding a new position. At the beginning of the year Bryon Calame wrote a column in the NYT on what he perceived as stonewalling.
"THE New York Times’s explanation of its decision to report, after what it said was a one-year delay, that the National Security Agency is eavesdropping domestically without court-approved warrants was woefully inadequate. And I have had unusual difficulty getting a better explanation for readers, despite the paper’s repeated pledges of greater transparency."
"For the first time since I became public editor, the executive editor and the publisher have declined to respond to my requests for information about news-related decision-making. My queries concerned the timing of the exclusive Dec. 16 article about President Bush’s secret decision in the months after 9/11 to authorize the warrantless eavesdropping on Americans in the United States."
"I e-mailed a list of 28 questions to Bill Keller, the executive editor, on Dec. 19, three days after the article appeared. He promptly declined to respond to them. I then sent the same questions to Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the publisher, who also declined to respond. They held out no hope for a fuller explanation in the future."
"Despite this stonewalling, my objectives today are to assess the flawed handling of the original explanation of the article’s path into print, and to offer a few thoughts on some factors that could have affected the timing of the article. My intention is to do so with special care, because my 40-plus years of newspapering leave me keenly aware that some of the toughest calls an editor can face are involved here – those related to intelligence gathering, election-time investigative articles and protection of sources. On these matters, reasonable disagreements can abound inside the newsroom."
Due to the communication problems between the executive editor and the publisher and their ombudsman they have decided on creating a new position of a ombudsman’s ombudsman. The ombudsman’s ombudsman will investigate complains and mediate a fair settlement between the ombudsman and editors and publishers when difficulties arise. The position of ombudsman’s ombudsman has not currently been staffed, but will be staffed in the near future to alleviate perceived communication problems.