Sunday, April 10, 2005

Advice for editors: how to defend your reporting

1. Don't, since it's an obvious conflict of interest; instead, outsource the job to an independent expert. The defense will carry a lot more weight if it comes from someone without a vested interest.

2. If appropriate, provide links to the articles in question, to help readers judge for themselves; just saying "they're available on our website" does not suffice, especially when the website Search utility is silently defective.

3. Don't just summarize the complaints; no matter how fairly you do it, the reader won't be able to judge how fairly you are doing it. The web is a spacious place; allow the complainants to present their case there, and link to their presentation, thus allowing motivated readers to calibrate you.

(This is in reference to a column published yesterday, which made a very reasonable case but for the above points, which we'd link to if we could find it on the website.)

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