Thursday, February 07, 2008

Cult of objectivity

A couple of days ago the New York Times had an excellent but depressing story about the first death from natural causes at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp -- a milestone in someone dying before getting to see an independent judge. Abdul Razzaq Hekmati was an Afghan war hero from the struggle against the Taliban and got landed in Gitmo almost solely on the world of people who had a grudge against him. No serious effort was made to get supporting witnesses for him, and there he stayed.

Today the New York Times has an editor's note for the story. Such a note is usually reserved for some major error or oversight in the story. So what is it? --

Andy Worthington, a freelance journalist who worked on the article under contract with The New York Times and was listed as its co-author, did some of the initial reporting but was not involved in all of it, and The Times verified the information he provided ... Mr. Worthington has written a book, “The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison,” in which he takes the position that Guantánamo is part of what he describes as a cruel and misguided response by the Bush administration to the Sept. 11 attacks. He has also expressed strong criticism of Guantánamo in articles published elsewhere.

The editors were not aware of Mr. Worthington’s outspoken position on Guantánamo. They should have described his contribution to the reporting instead of listing him as co-author, and noted that he had a point of view.

So someone with an expertise and, God forbid, a "point of view" is disqualified from the byline even when they supply verified facts?

No comments: