ANA 2008

Gray Lady Fights to Keep Her Dignity

Editorial Page Editor Describes New York Times' Efforts to Adapt Without Surrendering Standards

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ORLANDO, Fla. (AdAge.com) -- Andrew Rosenthal, editorial page editor at The New York Times, aims to ensure opinions and news are kept separate, even as the internet increasingly blurs that line.
Andrew Rosenthal
Andrew Rosenthal Credit: Doug Goodman

Speaking at the Association of National Advertisers' annual conference today, Mr. Rosenthal described the institution of journalism as being under assault. "News and opinion mingle with alarming alacrity [online]," Mr. Rosenthal said. "Bloggers cannot replace what we do. They are not going to open a bureau in Baghdad."

Times change
Still, even as Mr. Rosenthal maligned the impact the internet is having on journalism, he embraced it, saying the Times is working to move the medium forward. There are now columnists, for example, whose work is primarily posted online. And there are ongoing experiments with video, though Mr. Rosenthal admits the results have been mixed.

"Truth be told, the video stuff, people look at it -- not much," he said. "But we have had some very successful video."

Mr. Rosenthal also talked about plans to create a panel of experts that would reside online. The panel would respond to current news, such as the Russia-Georgia conflict, and drive a focused discussion online, interacting with each other and readers.

Agreeing to disagree
"If all you do is listen to the people that agree with you, you learn nothing," Mr. Rosenthal said, in explaining the newspaper's desire for a variety of opinions from diverse sources.

During a Q&A session, Laurel Touby, founder of Mediabistro.com, did however question the lack of female voices in the opinion pages.

"The fact is, we don't have enough of a variety of voices on our page," Mr. Rosenthal said. "What I'm hoping we can do is make a difference online; I know it's not exactly the same thing.

"Every time that we have an opening on our Op-Ed page, we're looking at diversity, and I don't just mean gender diversity or racial diversity. [We're looking for] geographic diversity, ideological diversity, all of it, " he said.
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