Saturday, January 08, 2005

A note regarding the praise and lack of it for tsunami coverage in the New York Times

Well it had to happen, the "pedistrian reporters" (as Rob called them) "are trying to glom onto the tsunami coverage." He's referring to Jodi Wilgoren and Tom Zeller. (As have a number of e-mails.)

I think at a time when new stories develop so the spotlight could fall of the human costs of the tsunami, the paper should be using their strong reporters. I said "strong," not "star."

15 e-mails regarding Wilgoren (five regarding Zeller) all decry the superficial writing. That may be all either's capable of.

I know that I personally spent a half hour with a friend lampooning Wilgorne's "coverage." (That may end up being a post tonight.)

At this point, bad reporting won't keep the story alive.

Professional journalist: "The easiest way to kill this coverage is to run with bad reporting. Wilgoren's disinterested, lackadaisical style will kill this story."

Last weekend, we were happy to note everyone even if, in one case, there was an attitude that we didn't appreciate. They were keeping the story alive. Bad writing is going to kill it. Someone's mistaken Wilgoren for a professional, interested reporter. We don't mistake her (or Zeller) for reporters. We're past the point that they can be "thanked" with others who are busting their butts to get this story out. Their reporting "style" trivializes the issue.

Krista: "Where's Amy Waldman? Jane [Perlez] and Alan [Cowell] and [Scott] Shane are keeping this story alive but when [Tom] Zeller and [Jodi] Wilgoren show up with their bored attitudes, they turn out boring pieces."

We'll highlight stand out pieces in the future. We won't do blanket congratulations. (And all the people noted in the post immediately below as well as in all previous posts earned the thanks and the attention they received.)

Professional Journalist said their paper could be listed, the Washington Post, but wants to otherwise remain anonymous. That's his/her right and the same right extended to everyone else who is a member of this community. But PJ wanted it noted that Zeller and Wilgoren have turned in the type of pieces that will tear down all the Times has accomplished in covering the tsunami and that he/she was speaking as someone with experience in reporting and working for a newspaper.

I agree with PJ's opinion. The e-mails coming in agree with that. We're not going to praise silly writers who write silly stories.

I had intended to quote from the stories that were worthy but it was pointed out by Elaine that you can't search photos at the Times. So for the post below, photographers and reporters writing articles were given the same attention.

Elaine: "Does the web site think that the only reporters, the only real ones, are the ones writing words?"

I have no idea. And I won't throw stones at them because I did the same thing in my earliest remarks. That's why, when I realized I'd done that, I used the words "my failure" that some of you objected to. It was my failure not to note the photographers who are journalists and are conveying the story. My eyes happened to wonder over to the nearest shelf and land on a book about Diane Arbus which is why it hit me that I was failing to note the contributions of the photo journalists. The Times web site manager might need to be prompted.

This isn't to castigate the person. Again, I made the same mistake. But take it up with the web site if you want to see any changes. (We'll be blogging on the web site -- either later tonight or tomorrow.) The thought might not have even occurred, no one may have pointed it out. So before you get upset with the person, you might want to contact them. (The e-mail address should be on the site. Due to Marcia's blistering e-mail, one that I agree with, I'm really not in a linking mood right now, so you'll have to look it up for yourself.) (We'll pick up on Marcia's e-mail in the next post.)

If someone's choosing not to highlight photography as reporting, then that's a problem. But if it's a case of them not thinking of it yet, then remind them. (I won't say it's a "failure" on his/her part. I'll gladly use the term for myself, however.)

Serious coverage of this story (in words or pictures) needs to be noted. We're not a community that gives shout outs for what we see as fluff. Boring stories will kill the coverage.

Sidebar, Maxine Waters will be on The Laura Flanders Show tomorrow night (Sunday). Flanders just noted that.