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Phil Bronstein

Phil Bronstein

Posted: October 20, 2009 02:14 PM

New York Times Responds to "Liberal" Borrowing Policy Question...

What's Your Reaction?

I like the tussle of digital world commenting, as nasty and angry and messy as it can get. There are also endless tips, suggestions, ideas and other useful things in comments sections that may be bad for the ego but good for journalism.

I've tried to have a fairly transparent inbox on this blog and have responded both to commenters and to people whose names show up in the post itself.

Today, the NYTimes slaps me down. Fair enough. I consider that a privilege, given the source. It was a lot more fiery in the SFGate comments section.

Statement from the Times' associate managing editor for standards, Philip B. Corbett:

The suggestion in Phil Bronstein's blog post that a New York Times reporter improperly borrowed or plagiarized from a San Francisco Chronicle article in a profile of the Oakland police chief is ridiculous.

The chief, in discussing his move to Oakland, explained his decision to our reporter in the same way he described it at the public news conference covered by the Chronicle in August. This is hardly surprising. As commenters on Mr. Bronstein's blog have pointed out, other news organizations had also recounted the same anecdote -- BEFORE the Chronicle article appeared. The fact that the chief has recounted the incident previously certainly does not give one newspaper an exclusive right to these facts.

The Times takes the issue of plagiarism extremely seriously. Even in a competitive news environment, allegations like these should not be made capriciously. But we're glad Mr. Bronstein is reading our new local pages carefully, and with evident concern.

Still, as not just a relatively careful reader, but a dedicated one -- Times, don't ignore all the good things I said in the post just because you're the paper of record and you can -- I expect a lot for $900-plus a year. Like a lead story in a news section that hasn't shown up, in very similar form (or, in the case of the Long Beach Post-Telegram, in different form) everywhere else.

Times, you have great reporters here, including the writer of the Oakland police chief piece. Do something original for your lead story next time.

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