Raines out
June 5, 2003 8:08 AM   Subscribe

Another victim of the blogs? Did the steady drumbeat of criticism kill Howell Raines? Discuss amongst yourselves.
posted by baltimore (26 comments total)
maybe, maybe not.
posted by delmoi at 8:12 AM on June 5, 2003

The more interesting question is did he jump or was he pushed? I'd like to think that he realized that he'd become the issue and was damaging the creditability of the Times.

Of course this won't be the end of right wing criticism of the Times, and I'm really not looking forward to the inevitable crowing of the blogging blowhards. Nothing will satisfy the paper's conservative critics. What really did Raines in was that he lost the trust and support of the paper's traditional supporters. In the end, all the Times has is its reputation. The Jayson Blair scandal seriously threatened that and that's why Raines had to go.
posted by trust_no_one at 8:20 AM on June 5, 2003

Well, criticism, and of course his mismanagement and bungling of the Times, his ardent support and backing of a journalist whose ethics and reporting had been questioned time and time again; you know, the stuff the lead to the criticism.
posted by xmutex at 8:22 AM on June 5, 2003

Simultaneous departure of the #1 and #2 guys? Looks more like a push to me.

It'll be interesting to see if Raines' "flood the zone" coverage style goes away.
posted by Vidiot at 8:24 AM on June 5, 2003

"Victim of the blogs"? I hope you're kidding.
posted by luser at 8:33 AM on June 5, 2003

So no one wanted to can the black man, so now the real talent gets pushed out.

Thanks, Jayson Blair. Thanks.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 8:34 AM on June 5, 2003

I tend to think it had more to do with the non-stop bashing of the NYT on every right wing television show, radio show, and townhall.com column.

The left wing bloggers think they ousted Trent Lott, and now the right wingers think they caused a shake up at the NYT. Both of those statements ignore the fact the majority of the people in the world don't get their new from weblogs, and possibly, wouldn't anyway.

The claims strike me as nothing be a bid for attention, and more importantly, page views. In the world of news, weblogs are the noise, not the signal.
posted by SweetJesus at 8:34 AM on June 5, 2003

Blame the moose See the last section of this story.
posted by newlydead at 8:38 AM on June 5, 2003

Story on Page 17K
posted by quonsar at 8:52 AM on June 5, 2003

I vote for Tina Brown as next executive editor of the NYT. Or quonsar. (Or Miguel, for that matter. He's got newspaper cred....and I cannot WAIT to see what the Arts & Leisure section would look like.)
posted by Vidiot at 8:55 AM on June 5, 2003

No, but the siren call of bloglike shoddy journalism might be responsible for the success of hacks like Jayson Blair. May the circle be unbroken by and by...
posted by MarkAnd at 9:01 AM on June 5, 2003

Discuss amongst yourselves.

Gee, thanks for asking! Golly, what do you think, swell pals? What a neat topic!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:15 AM on June 5, 2003

Most people don't read blogs, but most media people do. They are sort of intended for a more elite, news-hungry audience, who are willing to put in the time to search out *more* coverage of a story rather than to just accept the soundbyte and summary.... The blogs seem to keep certain topics on the media's radar screen, rather than letting them fade away.
posted by Spacelegoman at 9:35 AM on June 5, 2003

I tend to think it had more to do with the non-stop bashing of the NYT on every right wing television show, radio show, and townhall.com column.

Just for a quick counter thought to that - I tend to think it had more to do with Blair and Bragg being the tip of the iceberg, dishonest report and even columnists (Dowd) that intentionally skewed things to make her point and then never corrected, flood the zone coverage of the womens rights issue over the Augusta Masters during the "rush to war," and the litany of other problems that the Times faced. The tragedy isn't that Raines is out, it's that he did such harm to an otherwise excellent organization as its head.

Bloggers no more ousted Raines than Lott. Lott and Raines ousted themselves based on their performance.
posted by swerdloff at 9:42 AM on June 5, 2003

I don't think Blair in and of himself was enough to topple Raines - it was the fact that the scandal instigated a higher level of scrutiny, which led to the Bragg scandal and a much bigger question of how Times stories are written and by whom. I'd watch out for any simplistic explanation of this, especially including The Jesse's.

On preview, yeah, swerdloff.
posted by soyjoy at 9:43 AM on June 5, 2003

This is insane.

On a real world level, I think its obvious that the majority of the responsibility for the Blair fabrications lies with Blair. And Blair's fabrications began under Joseph Lelyveld, before Raines, um, took the reigns. Raines and Boyd were pushed out by the Sulzburger dynasty, no question about it. This marks the third generation of a Sulzburger to push out an executive editor out of deference to the staff.

This whole incident reminds me of Matt Doherty's recent "resignation" as coach of UNC's basketball team.
posted by gsteff at 9:56 AM on June 5, 2003

If anything, the Blair fiasco proved that newspapers were just as inept in practicing journalism as blogs. I noticed that last Sunday's Times featured an incoherent, generalization-laden James Traub neocon op-ed on comparisons to 1933 fascism by the Left. Even with Raines pushed out, it seems that the tide was washing against the right bank anyway.
posted by ed at 10:28 AM on June 5, 2003

Blogs? Criticism on Fox News? Pshaw.

Raines and Boyd had lost the trust and respect of too many people they were trying to lead. So they quit.

Editing the Times isn't like most media jobs, the way the paper's leaders operate under a microscope. Every time the Times got challenged on something in years to come, the whole Blair-Bragg thing would be regurgitated -- unless they cut it off.

So they did.

Howell Raines wrote a swell book about fly fishing during his midlife crisis. It'll be interesting to see where he turns up.
posted by sacre_bleu at 11:17 AM on June 5, 2003

I would say that these firings (which I believe they are) are due mainly to the vote of no confidence the two men had pretty much received from their own people - the reporters and other editors at the Times. I seriously doubt blogs of either wing had much to do with it.
posted by deadcowdan at 11:25 AM on June 5, 2003

sacre bleu has it right-- it's all about the staff, not the spin, the blogs, etc. The staff didn't like them in the first place, and when cracks started to appear, the liklihood of being able to lead was zilch. Maybe all the outside pressure made it a little easier to speak ones mind in the newsroom, but overall it seems quite obvious to me that this is a newsroom revolt (albeit a slow-motion one) and nothing more.
posted by cell divide at 11:29 AM on June 5, 2003

This still isn't as bad as what Walter Duranty did when he was in Moscow...
posted by insomnyuk at 11:41 AM on June 5, 2003

An insightful essay deconstructing the Blair Affair, written by Farai Chideya, a Black woman journalis.:
    "When I heard about Jayson Blair, the 27-year-old black reporter at the New York Times who made up at least half of his recent articles, I knew that the spin would be about race. Blair was a minority recruit. Now, according to some critics, he's a poster boy for the repeal of affirmative action. "Racial essentialism means that whites are thought of as having no race, and blacks (and to a lesser extent, other non-whites) are thought of as only seeing the world via race. This skewed perspective leads to the assumption that whites are "objective" when covering race (because they are somehow neutral, or raceless) and blacks are biased. It also means that white people don't have to apologize for famous plagarists like the Boston Globe's Mike Barnacle and Ruth Shalit (who penned a controversial article on race in the newsroom for The New Republic). Blacks apparently do. "Journalism is like any profession. There are a smattering of people who make us look bad, including the reporter caught stealing gold from Iraq and the two paid $10,000 each by the National Enquirer for lying about Elizabeth Smart's family. Many examples of journalistic misconduct never make it public. One minority reporter I know received a severance package because his boss, who was white, plagiarized his work. The supervisor was not fired, and the incident was not made public."
posted by Dunvegan at 12:07 PM on June 5, 2003

Another victim of the blogs?

I thought this was an incredibly witty, cutting, sarcastic comment and I was ready to applaud you until I read the peanut gallery and realized that you were being serious.
posted by Ynoxas at 12:30 PM on June 5, 2003

I'm sure that my blog entry about my two-year old daughter's birthday party was what pushed them over the edge.

Just a theory.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 5:38 PM on June 5, 2003

Christ. Jayson Blair isn't about Race. It's about promoting people _because_ of their race instead of because of their talent. Jayson Blair was red flagged and was still promoted anyway because he was a "diversity" bringer. Garbage.

It's not because JB was black. It's because JB was promoted because he was black.

If he was talented and bright and wasn't a liar and a sneak, he'd've gone far. But he was promoted out of turn due to the color of his skin. Turning MLKs dream on its head.

Who cares what race he was? He could have been American Indian or White. He pulled off a major con. What enabled him to do so was that his news room was "committed to diversity" at the cost of their professional judgment. If a white guy had deceived the media to the same extent, he'd get the same treatment. If the white guy was given his job due to nepotism, that would be the condemnee. In this instance, JB was promoted out of turn because his skin color was right. How is that different from the glass ceiling for women or any other minority preference? It hurts us all.
posted by swerdloff at 10:04 PM on June 5, 2003

Since the phrase "Another victim of the blogs?" has pretty roundly been derided and answered with "of course not" by this point, I'll just note that at least one blog played a pretty critical role, and that's Romenesko, as this article mentions.
posted by soyjoy at 9:47 AM on June 9, 2003

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