Kalb Report host and veteran journalist Marvin Kalb grilled NYT executive editor Bill Keller and Washington bureau chief Dean Baquet at the National Press Club last night. Baquet spoke for just five minutes of a one-hour program.
Kalb declared himself a NYT fan who respected the publication as a leader in the news business. But you wouldn’t know it from the tone of the interview. Early on, he pressed Keller on the number of features in the Times, some of which appear on the front page. Kalb said he was “of the sort” who believes only hard news belongs on the front page. Keller defended features, saying they were important for telling stories, and had news value. Kalb wasn’t persuaded.
Asked about competition, Keller said that though WaPo and WSJ are still major competitors, online media have also been competitive, not just for traffic but for reporting and editing talent. He named Politico, HuffPost, and The Daily Beast, and says he reads them daily. Or, as he explained,”somebody looks at them and tells me.”
Kalb and Keller also clashed over commentary and analysis in news pieces. Kalb said there “should be a wall between the two.” Keller disagreed. “I don’t mind analysis in the news pages. In fact, I encourage it…It’s what readers want,” he said.
Kalb seemed pissed…