Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The IHT Screws Up--Bigtime

John Rosenthal's Transatlantic Intelligencer blog discusses a major goof in the International Herald Tribune, which reported inaccurately that Joschka Fischer was stepping down from national politics.

"Did one need another reason to stop taking the NYTimes and its affiliate publications like the IHT seriously as sources of international and, more specifically, European news?" asks John.

Good question. Unfortunately I have yet another. The newly appointed editor of the IHT, who just stepped into the job, is an undistinguished Times bureaucrat named Michael Oreskes, whose most recent assignment was launching the nauseating Times Discovery cable channel.

In case you are like 99.999% of the TV viewing audience that has never even heard of the thing, Times Discovery is predicated on sheer arrogance. Its underlying assumption is that Times readers love the paper so much that they want to see Times reporters on the tube. Thus we are treated to such thrilling sites as Tom Friedman interviewing people for one of his harebrained columns, or a Times reporter riding in a gay rodeo.

With the genius who thought up all this crap now moving to the IHT--well, all I can say is that if you think the IHT has hit bottom, guess again.

Oreskes recently told Jon Friedman of Marketwatch that he wants "analytical scoops." Uh, Mike baby, what people want is "accuracy," maybe with a little "fairness" thrown in.

Unfortunately, it's a bit hard to figure out if something is accurate when you have absolutely no first-hand knowledge of the stuff that's in the newspaper you're editing. Amazingly -- except when you take their legendary arrogance into account-- Times editors have, in Oreskes, picked for this very significant job an individual who has never served overseas.

Apparently the IHT is serving, at least in this instance, as a dumping ground for an undistinguished, manifestly unqualified Times bureaucrat who can't fit in on this side of the Atlantic. That may be great from the standpoint of NY Times internal politics, but not so great for readers who don't want to read stuff that is just plain dumb.

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