Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Without Fear or Favor

Journalism is alive at the New York Times.  It matters not that their target is the NY Times new CEO Mark Thompson. He was the former director general of the BBC. The present director general and others have stepped down. [Ghastly mess' at BBC: Ex-chief's pay questioned, more quit amid sex scandal].

The  BBC is having their Catholic Church moment.  Think Jimmy Savile story, then think BBC's controversial decision not to air a program that investigated child sexual abuse by Savile, finally think BBC's controversial show that "aired false child sex abuse allegations against a former politician." [Ghastly mess' at BBC].

It seems that Mark Thompson was in charge when the show about Savile was dropped. Plausible deniability:
"Thompson, the new CEO of the New York Times, said he did not know about the nature of the investigation by "Newsnight" into Savile, and had no involvement in the decision to drop the report, which occurred while he was director general." [Ghastly mess' at BBC].
The Jimmy Savile story is major.
"The BBC faces police and other investigations into claims that hundreds of people, some as young as 12, were sexually abused over the course of decades by one of their top personalities, the late Jimmy Savile."
Thompson is one of many that will ultimately be drawn into the investigation. He and other top BBC management people can be expected to eschew the 'buck stops here' management approach. They can be expected to adopt the Sargent Schultz  (or the three monkeys) defense - "I hear nothing, I see nothing, I know nothing!"

One wonders whether reporters at other newspapers whether large or small would take on their CEO. See this example from the Washington Post:
"Times financial columnist Joe Nocera made the point even more bluntly a few days later: “Given the seriousness of sexual abuse allegations — look at what it did to Penn State — you would think that Thompson and his underlings would immediately want to get to the bottom of it. But, again, they did nothing. Thompson winds up appearing willfully ignorant. . . . It also makes you wonder what kind of chief executive he’d be at The Times.
Journalism: “stays true, always, to the principle of [reporting] Without Fear or Favor.” [Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the New York Times company’s chairman.]

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