The New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan Wednesday joined a chorus of voices criticizing her paper for failing to send reporters to Pfc. Bradley Manning’s pretrial hearings.
While the Times’ Washington Bureau David Leonhardt chief defended the decision to simply republish an AP wire on proceedings, Sullivan took the Gray Lady to task. “The testimony is dramatic and the overarching issues are important,” she wrote.
Leonhardt told the public editor via email:
As with any other legal case, we won’t cover every single proceeding. In this case, doing so would have involved multiple days of a reporter’s time, for a relatively straightforward story. The A.P. article recounting the main points of Mr. Manning’s testimony about his conditions of confinement that ran on page A3 of The Times conveyed fundamentally the same material as a staff story would have.
However, as Times reader David Morf noted in a reprinted letter, using AP wire copy “let the story bury itself.” Following Sullivan’s piece, a number of commentators have taken issue with Leonhardt’s reference to “any other legal case,” since for many Manning’s treatment by the U.S. military and his role as a whistleblower make his case exceptional. .................(more)