Paul From Minneapolis

Sunday, April 17, 2005

There’s A New Strib Reader Rep

Pretty new, anyway. Her name’s Kate Parry and she’s been around a couple months now. Oh, how I long to find out that she has an ability to think critically about the Star Tribune, in a fundamental sense.

Of course her need to do so is somewhat (not entirely) limited by the fact that her purview is everything in the newspaper except the editorial page. Which means the cold heart of our local dominant paper, the section that is most habitually and demonstrably dishonest, misleading and harmful, is beyond her attention. She really doesn’t care about it, and doesn’t much want to talk about it.

She has told me any respectable paper works the same way, while acknowledging that the New York Times doesn't work that way. "Heh," as someone says.

Be that as it may, today she pens an earnest defense of journalists against attacks she believes are largely undeserved, and engaged in for the most part by people who have no sincere motivation in doing so. I could go on and on and on about the ways I disagree with that, but out of many from which to choose this is a good passage to highlight:

"No one else can match the staff, resources and rigorous standards newspapers bring to writing broadly, deeply and fairly about our communities. This is the place where people who disagree with each other can engage in debate for everyone to read, fueling the great ongoing civic discussions around dinner tables and over backyard fences that undergird democracy."

The first sentence: If she’s talking about local outlets for covering communities like the Twin Cities, she’s correct that no one matches the staff and resources of the Star Tribune. As for the rigor, however: I'll grant there are undoubtedly far more persons included in the process of devising and adhering to rigorous standards at the paper than is the case with your local blogger in his fabled pajamas. But unless the universal rule on creative or subjective undertakings has become “more people means better outcomes always,” her statement seems weakly-defended to me.

The second sentence: I think this might just be a typo, one of those "it's so obvious you miss it" things. I assume she meant to say that the blog world is the place where people who disagree with each other can engage in debate for everyone to read, fueling the great ongoing discussions that undergird democracy and so on. It's actually a real nice description of the new phenomenon. So I'll just chalk this one up as an oversight, although it causes me chagrin that that the paper’s rigorous standards didn’t catch it.