New York Times ombudsmanÂ Clark HoytÂ weighs in on technology reporter Brad Stone‘s story from last week about how some people check e-mail before doing anything else in the morning and is critical of the sources used.
Hoyt writes, “Stone told me he sent messages to ‘people I thought of as connectors’ and through them found 10 families to interview, double the number that finally made the paper and including people unrelated to the news media. He got in touch with Gude on Facebook and found Glaser through a mutual friend. He told his editor, David Gallagher, about his past relationship with Gude and that Glaser had written for The Times, and neither thought these were problems. Gallagher said that, in retrospect, ‘I wish we had picked other examples.’
“Glaser said that she and Stone first agreed she shouldnâ€™t be quoted because of her Times connections. She volunteered to find others who would talk but couldnâ€™t. Stone said the tale of Glaserâ€™s 14-year-old daughter missing her school bus because she was chatting on Facebook was just too good to pass up.
“Gude said it didnâ€™t occur to him that there might be a problem. Many years ago, when he worked at United Press International, he was the top anecdote in an article written by a reporter sitting at the next desk.
“Larry Ingrassia, the business editor, said, ‘Brad should have cast the net wider,’ but he said he still thinks it was a valid story. He pointed to 274 comments posted on The Timesâ€™s Web site. The article was at the top of the paperâ€™s most e-mailed list for much of a day, and it was widely discussed on blogs.”
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