PALESTINIANS WALK past graffiti depicting jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, currently serving five life terms for terrorism, on a section of the security wall on the road to Ramallah..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The New York Times public editor published a column Tuesday saying that the paper’s inaccurate description of convicted Palestinian terrorist Marwan Barghouti “risks the credibility” of the paper’s op-ed pages.
At the bottom of an op-ed penned by Barghouti, who is currently serving five consecutive life sentences for murder, he was identified only as “a Palestinian leader and parliamentarian.” A correction was later added.
In an online column, the paper’s public editor, Liz Spayd, wrote that she saw no reason to skimp on the description of op-ed authors and that “failing to do so risks the credibility of the author and the op-ed pages. In this case, I’m pleased to see the editors responding to the complaints, and moving to correct the issue rather than resist it. Hopefully, it’s a sign that fuller disclosure will become regular practice.”
Spayd acknowledged that “a rash of readers have objected – in emails to me and on social media – to what they say was the Times
distorted characterization of Barghouti.”
“This isn’t a new issue for the opinion section. I have written before on the need to more fully identify the biography and credentials of authors, especially details that help people make judgments about the opinions they’re reading,” she continued.
“Do the authors of the pieces have any conflicts of interest that could challenge their credibility? Are they who they say they are, and can editors vouch for their fidelity?”
Spayd asked the paper’s op-ed pages editor, Jim Dao, about the decision not to include Barghouti’s crimes in his author’s description.
“Dao noted that the piece does say the author received multiple life sentences, but he acknowledged that it doesn’t state the crimes for which he was convicted. ‘We are drafting an editors’ note that will provide that information,’ he said,” wrote Spayd.