The McCain Article, the Day After

The Times comes through for its readers

In a piece yesterday, “Five Questions for Bill Keller,” we noted that the controversy surrounding The New York Times’s front-page article about John McCain offered the paper a unique opportunity to practice the kind of productive transparency that readers want from their news organizations.

Today, the Times comes through. The paper, its Web site having received over 2,000 comments about the story, titles today’s “Talk to the Newsroom” feature “The McCain Article.” The feature offers commentary from Bill Keller, the Times’s executive editor, Jill Abramson, its managing editor, and Richard Stevenson, its political editor, discussing, among other things, the strength of the public’s reaction to the article; the article’s use of anonymous sources; and the allegations of political motivations leveled at the Times for running the story yesterday.

Whatever one thinks of the McCain article itself, the Times editors’ discussion of it is a nice reminder of the dialogue—thoughtful, interactive, and constructive—that a news organization can engage in with its readers. In providing the journalistic transparency that readers not only desire, but also deserve, such discussion builds readers’ trust. In every sense of the word.

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