Saturday, September 08, 2007

News Sentinel Editor Concedes Bias Problem; Enlists Bloggers for Court Coverage

In what looks to me to be a huge concession over his paper's ability to cover a lawsuit in which it is a party, Knoxville News Sentinel Editor Jack McElroy enlisted 3 local bloggers "to provide independent scrutiny of the paper's coverage of the trial."

Mr. McElroy defines the scope of the challenge:
We journalists are supposed to keep ourselves out of the story. We’re trained to be neutral observers, reporting what we see with aloof objectivity.

But what do we do when the story is about us? How do we cover that news while maintaining credibility? ....

I ... believe ... that the lawsuit was an appropriate — indeed, necessary — extension of our watchdog role.

However, it has opened us to accusations of biased coverage. After all, we are a party to the lawsuit on which we are reporting.
The fact that Mr. McElroy is utilizing bloggers is fine, but more remarkable is a rare concession from a paper that its relationship to a particular subject can adversely affect its claims to objectivity. I am impressed.

UPDATE: Nashville's mainstream press should have made the same sort of movement toward independent reporters--bloggers or not--to provide independent scrutiny of their attempts to continue to sell their product with no limits whatsoever in a public space (a.k.a., the news rack regulation controversy of last April).

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