Two different sides of the New York Times were on display in a couple of articles published June 29 and June 30. In one, we got news about how the paper worked to prevent the release of information that might have harmed its correspondent, David Rohde, who had been kidnapped by the Taliban. Besides not publishing anything on the kidnapping and asking other news organizations to maintain silence, the Times teamed up with Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales to scrub details about the kidnapping from the reporter’s Wikipedia page. While the Times carried out this effort to protect its reporter’s safety (in the end he escaped his captors and is now home), and while the policy can be debated, the look at the Wikipedia operation is a fine example of self-examination.
Meanwhile, another article, the lead piece in the Arts section about a previously little-known socialite, feels like the fix was in at the paper. In “Philanthropist With a Sense of Timing Raises Her Profile,” a Times reporter describes how the wife of a billionaire investor became more visible in high society circles. The substance did not seem to justify the article, which did more than the woman’s own charity to raise her profile. Only in a very brief mention do we read that her husband’s firm owns 20 percent of the New York Times.