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NYU Journalism Professor Jay Rosen praises the 18-month tenure of the very first public editor of The New York Times, Daniel Okrent. I’m inclined to agree. Okrent was the very first Times insider to admit the paper’s bias. And he did so in a matter-of-fact way that was not snide, not defensive and not dismissive of those of us who’ve been pointing out the bias for years.
By being the first to speak the unspeakable truth about the paper, Okrent made it that much easier for similar honesty to prevail in the future. As a business, that would be very healthy for the Times. Conservatives will read liberal papers. But fewer conservatives will read liberal papers that insult our intelligence by pretending not to have the perspective that they do. If Okrent’s legacy lives on, the Times might be able to lure back some readers who find the newfound candor refreshing.