What could make venerated publication and hallowed critical voice the New York Times backpedal ungraciously and admit some shaky practices by their own staff writer? The electric car.

Over the past week, the dust-up between electric car company Tesla and the Times regarding a scathing review that accused the car company of poor planning — both in the car and on the road — has resulted in a pile of open letters and pushback on all sides. Tesla founder and tech influencer Elon Musk took to Twitter to accuse the Times of lying and intentionally setting up the car to fail, while reporter John Broder shot back with his own responses to all of Musk’s critiques on the publication’s Wheels Blog. After days of similar comments from all sides, Public Editor Margaret Sullivan finally published her reporting post-mortem yesterday afternoon. In the lengthy piece, Sullivan admits that while Broder exhibited “good faith” in his desire to review Tesla’s much-hyped Model S, his judgement during the trip was not sound.

It’s a tangled interaction, but one that merits a deep examination into the new world journalists live in — one where companies can respond to damning critiques with their own dissection and gain a lot of exposure doing so. There are plenty of things to learn from this situation as a reporter, editor and critic, but here are just a few quick takeaways that will help you be better in the field.  Read more