In defense of the NYT’s DealBook
Felix Salmon of Reuters defends the DealBook site operated by the New York Times business section in the wake of criticism by the paper’s public editor.
Salmon writes, “Brisbane, by contrast, wants to see ‘in-depth investigating of a complex ecosystem’ in Europe, and wants the NYT to help its readers ‘understand deep crises like European debt’ by having journalists ‘step up and look at things systemically.’ Brisbane reckons that DealBook is doing none of these things; that’s a matter of opinion. But he goes further than that: he says that the NYT’s investment in DealBook ‘meant forgoing an opportunity to strengthen reporting elsewhere.’ And by ‘elsewhere’, Brisbane clearly means ‘elsewhere on the international-business-and-economics beat.’
“Brisbane offers no evidence whatsoever that this might be the case. And common sense says that the opposite is true. If the NYT is pouring money into deep analysis of international finance, that’s surely an indication of resources going in the right direction, not the wrong direction. Meanwhile, if you want to point to wasted resources, DealBook stories on George Soros’s girlfriend pale in relation to the kind of things regularly called out by the @NYTOnIt Twitter stream. Is DealBook setting up email addresses dedicated to reporting the names of bodega cats? It is not. Is DealBook breathlessly reporting that Facebook makes it easy to wish your friends a happy birthday? It is not. Has DealBook uncovered the astonishing fact that women wear dresses in the summer? It hasn’t, sorry. But Brisbane points to none of these things as evidence of resources being wasted on frivolity rather than being put to good use in serious investigations of Europe’s financial woes.
“More to the point, DealBook is being funded generously precisely because it represents an opportunity to bring new advertisers and new money to the NYT. Brisbane, far from disdaining the DealBook party featuring ‘charter advertisers like Goldman Sachs and Barclays Capital,’ should be celebrating the fact that ‘in today’s straitened circumstances’ — his words, not mine — the NYT has managed to identify a deep-pocketed source of new revenues. If Brisbane wants to fund in-depth investigations of the possible global spillovers from a European collapse, then using new revenues from DealBook might be an obvious way of doing that, no?”
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