Saturday, July 21, 2007

When a Competitor Makes Headlines

When a Competitor Makes Headlines - New York Times: By CLARK HOYT

ON June 25, The New York Times began a two-part front-page examination of Rupert Murdoch, the international media baron who is trying to buy Dow Jones and its crown jewel, The Wall Street Journal.

The articles, the result of three weeks of reporting on four continents by five reporters, said that Murdoch and his News Corporation use many tools to further his business interests and build relationships with the politically connected, including book contracts awarded or canceled, and lavish praise for friends and harsh criticism for adversaries in his media outlets.

Gary L. Ginsberg, executive vice president for corporate affairs at the News Corporation, objected strenuously to the articles. He appealed to me to look into whether “the primary motivation for doing such an extensive investigation ... was in the end self-serving and commercial.”...

Ginsberg sent a long list of what he said were factual errors or examples of bias in the first of the two Times articles, which focused primarily on Murdoch’s activities in the United States. I looked into them, and this is a sampling of what I found:...

The Times stories were tough but accurate, no tougher in fact than articles in The Journal and in other newspapers and magazines covering a very big business story.

But Ginsberg’s complaints are another reminder of how difficult it is for a newspaper to cover a competitor, who can always cry foul.

Next week, I’ll look at articles The Times should be writing but hasn’t so far. They’re about itself.

Clark Hoyt's early work as The Times' new Public Editor has impressed me as serious-minded, fair, and focused on important issues rather than trivia. I look forward to this next piece, and more to come.

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