Se defiende de un artículo publicado en su diario en el que se critica los medios convencionales en favor de los blogs


El director de The New York Times se escribe a sí mismo

Periodista Digital, Lunes, 22 de agosto 2005

El director de The New York Times, Bill Keller, se ha escrito una carta a sí mismo para salir al paso de un artículo publicado en las páginas de su diario a cerca de la crisis de los medios de comunicación en Estados Unidos. Este artículo, redactado por el juez conservador Richard Posner y titulado 'Malas noticias', hacía una defensa apasionada del nuevo mundo de la blogosfera. Para Posner, los diez millones de blogs hoy contabilizados "cuentan con una maquinaria de corrección de errores mejor que los medios convencionales". De hecho, llega a afirmar este juez estadounidense, "un diario serio como The New York Times, al ser grande jerárquico y comercial... tiene fuertes limitaciones". La respuesta del director de NYT fue publicada este domingo en sus Cartas al Director.

"Me ha resultado desalentadora su crítica…, tendenciosa y cínica". Así arremetía Bill Keller contra el artículo publicado en su diario. Y es que su autor, el juez Richard Posner, consideró que la prensa convencional, hoy en el punto de mira en un momento de crisis, está limitada por la necesidad de comprobar sus informaciones. Caso contrario a la dinámica de los blogs, cuya veracidad queda de la mano invisible que, al estilo de la teoría económica de Adam Smith, pone a cada uno en su sitio dentro de la blogosfera.

Una reflexión, la de Posner, que ha calificado el director del NYT de determinismo. "Nuestros intereses económicos - ha respondido Keller a las críticas de Posner - dependen de lectores de muchos colores políticos pese a lo que se piensa en la blogósfera". Una afirmación con la que el director de TNYT quiso contestar las declraciones del juez sobre que hoy en día "el medio de izquierdas se hace más de izquierdas y el diario conservador, más conservador".

Para el director de NYT "la mejor forma de desmentir su teoría de que los medios responden exclusivamente a sus intereses es el hecho de que hayamos publicado a Posner".

Por su interés, reproducimos a continuación el texto íntegro de la Carta al Director de Keller:

Richard A. Posner has a famously prodigious and provocative mind. I always pick up a Posner essay expecting to be challenged by an original argument. So it was disheartening that his review of the latest crop of press-bashing books was mostly a regurgitation, as tendentious and cynical as the worst of the books he consumed.

First, and weirdly, he makes almost no distinctions within the vast category of American media, between those that are aggressively partisan and those that strive to keep opinion sequestered from news, between outlets that invest in serious reporting and those that simply riff on the reporting of others, between the sensational and the more high-minded, between organizations that hasten to correct errors and those that could not care less, between the cartoonish shout shows on cable TV and the more ambitious journalism of, say, the paper you are holding in your hands.

Then he swallows almost uncritically the conventional hogwash of partisan critics on both sides: that ’’the media’’ (as accused from the right) work in tireless pursuit of a liberal agenda, and that they have (as accused from the left) become docile house pets of the Bush administration because they fear offending the powers that be.

Finally, to explain the workings of this undifferentiated ’’media,’’ simultaneously liberal and supine, he applies his trademark theory of market determinism. Whether conspiratorially or instinctively (Posner is unclear on this), the media have changed course in response to economic threats. The liberal news organizations, he says, have become even more liberal in order to protect their market share — to secure their base — in times of mounting competition from blogs and conservative cable upstarts. At the same time they have grown more timid for fear of offending the ’’social consensus, however dumb or even vicious the consensus.’’ (He may despise the media, dear reader, but Posner doesn’t think much of you, either.) In his view, the news media are ’’just satisfying a consumer demand no more elevated or consequential than the demand for cosmetic surgery in Brazil or bullfights in Spain.’’ In this, Posner the polemicist is sadly consistent with Posner the federal appeals court judge, who has been notably hostile to the idea that the First Amendment affords journalists special protections. (See his opinion in McKevitt v. Pallasch, 2003, disavowing any right to protect confidential sources.)

Of course we serve a market, and respond to our economic interests. Our economic interests lie with readers (of many political colors, contrary to blogospheric conventional wisdom) who have high standards, who care about the same things we do and who would quickly desert us if they thought we were one-tenth as unprincipled as Posner implies. We are unquestionably in the business of satisfying a customer demand, but our customers — both readers and advertisers — come to us precisely in the expectation of receiving something ’’more elevated or consequential’’ than cosmetic surgery in Brazil. And we’re proud to be able to give it to them.

The saddest thing is that Judge Posner’s market determinism leaves no room for the other dynamics I’ve witnessed in my 35 years in newspapers: the idealism of reporters who think they can make the world better, the intellectual satisfaction of puzzling through a complicated issue, the competitive gratification of being first to discover a buried story, the pride in striving to uphold a professional code of fair play, the quest for peer recognition and, yes, the feedback from attentive and thoughtful readers. He makes no allowance for the possibility that conscientious reporters and editors are capable of setting aside their personal beliefs or standing up to their advertisers (and the prejudices of their readers) to do work they believe in.

Would he be so cynical about a world he actually knows? Is the behavior of the American judiciary explainable purely as a response to economic self-interest? Should we assume that all judicial rulings are panderings, either to the voting public or to the executives who hand out judicial appointments? Or should we allow that reverence for the law, a respect for how democracy functions, a sense of fairness, the satisfaction of a well-reasoned argument — judgment — have some relevance to how judges behave?

I suppose the best refutation of the view that ’’the media’’ are guided solely by narrow self-interest, however, is this: We published Posner.

New York
Mr. Keller is the executive editor of The New York Times