From Publishers Weekly
If ever a job was to serve as a vortex of contempt-social, political, intellectual, professional, grammatical and sometimes just plain nonsensical-it's the ombudsman at The New York Times. Established in the wake of the Jayson Blair fiasco and the dramatic departure of then-executive editor Howell Raines, the Times' "public editor" was to serve as the readers' advocate, a wildcard columnist with the freedom and power to explore, analyze and, when necessary, rebuke the "paper of record" on its own pages. Into that spot stepped Okrent, a former magazine editor whose zeal for the task and willingness to irritate Times staffers and readers alike yielded twice-monthly essays that were everything column-writing should be: conversational, provocative, probing, revelatory, often combative, occasionally humorous, and a touch self-satisfied. During his 18-month tenure, Okrent addressed some of print journalism's hottest topics-anonymous sources, polls and statistics, the selection and placement of photographs, the persistent accusation of liberal bias-in an attempt to demystify the day-to-day sausage-making at the world's (arguably) most important newspaper. Though too concerned with his own critics, Okrent's short, insightful and sometimes apologetic epilogues that follow each column add valuable depth to an already strong collection.
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About the Author
Before his appointment as the Times's first public editor, Daniel Okrent served in a number of prominent positions in magazine publishing, among them editor-at-large of Time Inc., managing editor of Life, and editor of New England Monthly. He is the author of four books, most recently Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller Center, which was a finalist for the 2003 Pulitzer Prize in history. Okrent lives in New York and on Cape Cod with his wife, poet Rebecca Okrent.