Friday, July 08, 2005

Miracle on 43rd Street! Calame Clears Everything Up

It Wasn't Poaching After All!

All you guys out there -- Michelle Malkin, FishbowlNY, Gawker, and the rest -- who have talked about my being poached by the NY Times on Romenesko (which I've discussed here and here), shame on you! It didn't happen.

A response has just come in from New York Times public editor Barney Calame and he has cleared everything up. Turned out that Times reporter Ken Belson was just wandering through's 150 million pages and "independently obtained" that stuff.

In other words, it's all a coincidence. A miracle! It was poached at all!

Yup. That is what Barney says, and he is entirely serious. In fact, he seems very huffy about it, as if maybe I took him away from more important stuff, which I guess I did. Read his response and my very polite rejoinder below. Anyway, I expect corrections from all you guys.

One caveat--Barney may not actually be relaying his own view of the thing, but rather passing on the line of hogwash he got from 43rd Street. He is, after all, a former Wall Street Journal bureaucrat and, hey, I don't pay his salary. Do you?

So here is his response and my reply:

"Dear Mediacrity:

"First. A July 3 item in The New York Times reported the 2003 compensation of Jim Romenesko and specifically noted that the dollar amount had already been under discussion on Mediacrity. The Times's compensation data had been independently obtained and confirmed.

"Second. Mediacrity asked The Times to run a correction saying Mediacrity exclusively reported the compensation of Mr. Romenesko on June 26, but refused to to provide the name and telephone number of a person as required by the paper. The Times deserves to have the name and number of a person who can answer questions about the assertion of exclusivity and be held accountable if it were to be challenged by another Web site or media outlet.

"Third. The Times is willing to consider a Mediacrity correction request that supports the exclusivity claim and includes the name and phone number of a person who represents Mediacrity.

Byron Calame
Public Editor
The New York Times

"Note: The public editor's opinions are his own and do not represent those
of The New York Times."

OK.... my reply:

"Dear Mr. Calame,

"Thank you for your reply.

"I am a bit confused by something. Your response reads like an institutional response of the Times. Are you simply relaying the position of Times editors, or stating your own position? I assume the former, but I'd appreciate a clarification if that is not the case.

"You say, 'The Times's compensation data had been independently obtained and confirmed.'

"Really? Is Mr. Belson [the reporter who wrote the item] saying that he just happened to be browsing through the 150 million or so pages of public filings on and just happened to stumble on Mr. Romenesko's salary? Is he claiming that he did not read about it in Mediacrity or a blog or website that cited Mediacrity?

"Are they seriously asserting that it cannot be determined that Mediacrity reported this first? Or that they haven't tried very hard to find an earlier citation, and failed? They have certainly done so, because this matter has been very widely publicized and will continue to be, as you know.

"Are they also saying that a 'name and address' is needed to confirm that your newspaper inaccurately reported a discussion on Mediacrity (among the other inaccuracies noted by myself and others)?

"Is it now Times policy that if a person contacts this newspaper about an error or a violation of Times policy, even if it concerns a third party, he or she must provide a name and address so that they can be "held accountable"? By the way, what is meant by 'held accountable'?

"Look, I realize that the editors who goofed up, and violated your ethics rules, would prefer not to run a correction stating that they poached froim a blog and committed other errors. It is embarassing to have caught poaching, but as you and I and they and thousands of other people are aware, that is what they did. Why not let in Times readers on that little secret?

"I look forward to your reply."

Which I do! This thing gets funnier by the minute.

UPDATE: The Mighty Oz has spoken!