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Public Editor Number One: The Collected Columns (with Reflections, Reconsiderations, and Even a Few Retractions) of the First Ombudsman of The New York Times Hardcover – May 16, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-1586484002 ISBN-10: 1586484001 Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; First Edition edition (May 16, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586484001
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586484002
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,256,914 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Joseph M. Mcnally on December 28, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Dan remains one of the most articulate voices in all of journalism. He negotiated the tightrope of commenting forcefully, accurately and fairly about one of the most storied, ego driven, over sensitive, self important and crucial institutions of our times--the NY Times--with aplomb, wit, sensitivity and erudition. His writings and the reactions to them play out with lucid grace in this very important book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Moody on February 27, 2010
Format: Paperback
Dan Okrent has long been an articulate purveyor of diverse subjects...whether it be discussing the Baltimore Chop in Ken Burns "Baseball", writing (and almost winning the Pulitzer) on the development and construction of the Rockefeller Center and even commenting on the Times crossword puzzles in the documentary "Wordplay" he expresses his expertise of the subject matter in a very lucid and expressive manner. When he was named the first public editor of the New York Times in 2003 (in the wake of the Jason Blair plagiarism scandal), he was obligated to be the conduit of the enormous readership of the paper with freedom to comment on any topic applicable...all while having little previous newspaper experience. This book then is a compilation of those bi-weekly columns that effectively policed the paper and continued his intelligible and eclectic commentary.

Agreeing to a nonnegotiable eighteen month term, Okrent's oversight included topics as wide ranging as the war in Iraq, the Tony Awards and the presidential election of 2004. Times readership, naturally, had much to say on the paper's coverage of these topics and Okrent brilliantly balanced the criticisms with observations and actions taken against the paper's policies that (seemingly) established forever the role of public editor. The distinction of this book, among much, is the ability to read these columns now as they appeared then with the advantage of hindsight...indeed Dan inserts contemporary commentary and "a few retractions" after each and we see unequivocally that his time at the paper was significant and meaningful. Moreover, Okrent was able to do all this while writing in a wonderfully explicit and expository manner that, whether you're a fan of journalism or not, will appeal to a wide range of readers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Wesley Blount on January 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Okrent was the first, and still - 3 editors in - probably the best of the Public Editors; it fell to him to define the role, and he basically used his biweekly column to take on simmering controversies, challenge preexisting notions at The Times, and occasionally dip into the whole "liberal bias/MSM" type discussions out in the blogosphere. Mostly though, Okrent was a graceful, charming writer, and his collected columns showcase the easy, familiar way he had dealing with his topics. Whether chiding the Times for over-zealous Tony Award coverage, or wading into the controversies of unnamed sources, Okrent brought years of newspaper experience and the point of view of an avid reader to each issue, and illuminated the dilemmas of putting out a paper every day. At least one of his suggestions - a reworking of the "Corrections" section to separate small things like misspellings from larger errors of fact or reporting, is probably his most lasting impact. But so is this book, a great read, and a fun lok at contemporary issues in journalism. I highly recommend it.
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0 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Caswallon S. Barrios on May 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover
...the NYT All-Stars. worth a look, at least as unintended companion volume to Walter Lord's A Night to Remember. in the author's defense, he doesn't feign objectivity, whether it be in regard to the social views of NYT staffers or in defending theologies with "trick power supplies." on the downside, he's no Jack Germond.
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