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Ouroussoff’s Rough Day: Reviewing the NY Times’ New Building

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A really fun story over at Editor & Publisher about the difficulties faced by NY Times architecture critic, Nicolai Ouroussoff, when it came time yesterday to review the paper’s new building. As he says, he was caught between a rock and a hard place. He could say he loved it, then readers would assume bias and that Niccolai wasn’t much interested in being fired that week. If he slammed it, readers would guess he was probably doing nothing more than showing off his power at the paper. In the end, he decided it was best just to lay it all out from his own perspective. Here’s some from back at E&P:

So was it right for the Times to have its own critic review its own new building? Having read the piece, Poynter Institute Ethics Group Leader Kelly McBride and the Times’ own public editor, Clark Hoyt, say yes.

“My attitude toward it was that he did exactly the right thing by starting off stating what a box he was in,” Hoyt told E&P. “The review turned out to be a fairly balanced review. It is an awkward situation for anyone to be in.”

McBride, who handles ethics questions daily from news outlets nationwide, agreed: “I think the reviewer was upfront about being in a strange situation. He figured out a way to do it that provided the audience with the transparency they needed.”

Hoyt’s only suggestion was that, perhaps, the Times should ask an outsider to write a second review of the building, to give another viewpoint: “That occurs to me as on option they might have.”

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