More to the point, such thinking represents a distortion, rather than a reflection, of journalistic reality. As Bob Garfield and James Fallows noted in this weekend’s “On the Media”—while discussing the misleading TNR article that contributed, ultimately, to the downfall of the Clinton administration’s proposed health care plan—the blogosphere plays a valuable and, in fact, essential role in fact-checking and otherwise truth-squadding the journalism produced by the MSM:

GARFIELD: So I guess what it comes down to is this, Jim: 15 years ago there was no blogosphere, there was Talking Points Memo to go over the health care proposal line by line. Can you Swift boat a policy issue in 2009 in the way that they were able to pull off during the Clinton Administration?

FALLOWS: You can probably do it in some way, but I think that particular form of misinformation is a lot harder now.

Thus, another point that should go without saying: the fact that there is now a community of people on the Web who hold the work of Times reporters and their counterparts accountable—which is to say, who care about the Times’s quality and reputation enough to critique it in the first place—is to be celebrated. It is not to be resisted—or, worse, to be dismissively, defensively decried. The bloggers in question in Hoyt’s column—“those outside,” as it were—were doing the work that Hoyt himself is charged with: representing readers, and policing journalists to ensure that the journalism they produce reflects the best interests of their audiences. The Times, in the cases the public editor described this weekend, met its match. And that, Mr. Hoyt, is a good thing.


Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.