“On a mission to destroy.” “On a witch hunt.” “Got it wrong.” “Tackier than a costume change at a Madonna costume.”
These are just some of the criticisms that have been used to describe journalists and their coverage of vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Last week, Republicans called out The New York Times for an article it published about Palin and her 17-year-old daughter’s pregnancy, saying the paper used the pregnancy news as “fodder for political purposes.”
The Times‘ public editor, Clark Hoyt, points out that journalists were just doing their job: reporting the news and educating readers about Palin’s background. In an article in Sunday’s Times, Hoyt addressed concerns about the Times‘ coverage and rightfully admitted to a mistake the paper made regarding the lack of an attribution. He described the articles being criticized, saying:
“The drip-drip-drip of these stories seems like partisanship to Palin’s partisans. But they fill out the picture of who she is, and they represent a free press doing its job, investigating a candidate who might one day be the leader of the Free World.”
Thank goodness for public editors who can serve as the liaison between the public and the press and, when necessary, clarify and explain why journalists do what they do. It’s important to listen to people’s criticisms of the press because they’re often valid. Other times, though, they’re unfounded or unfair and stem from a misunderstanding of news organizations’ intentions and purpose.
Dana Milbank of The Washington Post also responded to recent attacks on the “Eastern media elite” in this video, in which he parodies the idea that journalists are among the “elite.” It’s pretty funny. Journalists will especially enjoy it because they know that a journalists’ job is anything BUT glamorous. Crappy pay, ever-changing hours, cubicles instead of offices, late nights on deadline … the passion definitely has to be there to want a job like this.
New York Times reporter Mark Leibovich offers this bit of advice to the “elite”: “Thicken that skin of yours and develop a good sense of humor.” It seems Milbank and hopefully others are doing just that.
Weigh in: How well do you think the press has handled its coverage of Palin?