'NYT' Public Editor Asks Paper to Cover -- Itself

By: E&P Staff Clark Hoyt, recently hired as public editor at The New York Times, opens his Sunday column this way: "Here's a story I?d like to read ? and I?ll bet you would too.

"One of America?s leading companies, a world-famous brand, has hit a rough patch. Its revenues and profits are declining, its debt rating has been downgraded, and a leading Wall Street house has advised investors to dump their shares. With sales of its core product falling, the company is raising the price and investing heavily in new technology that is slow to pay off.

"A major outside shareholder has been agitating to end the stock structure that has allowed one storied and powerful family to run the company for four generations. As another family in the same troubled industry appears ready to throw in the towel, will this family be able to stick together and find new success?"

The company, of course, is The New York Times Co. Hoyt just wants to know why the Times has not covered this deeply.

"Amid all this turmoil," Hoyt explains, "aggressively reported and analyzed in The Times, there has been a comparative silence in the paper about its own owners, their challenges and their strategy. From Arthur Sulzberger Jr. to Landon Thomas Jr., a business reporter who has been assigned stories about The Times, everyone acknowledges a fundamental truth: It?s hard to write about yourself."

Hoyt talks to Thomas and Sulzberger and closes with a quote from Executive Editor Bill Keller: ?This is a story we could do.? Hoyt adds: "I hope he does."

The full column is at www.nytimes.com.


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