Magazine article Editor & Publisher

No Outsourcing around Here

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

No Outsourcing around Here

Article excerpt

Richard Reeves is entitled to his opinion about the quality of Metro coverage in The New York Times ("Shop Talk," Nov. 21, p. 54), but his views are based on several factual errors that require correction.

We do not "outsource." as Reeves calls it, our reporting in Brooklyn. We station eight reporters in the boroughs outside Manhattan. four of them in Brooklyn. They work out of Times bureaus in those boroughs. All eight are what Reeves asks them to be, that is "health-benefited pension-building" correspondents, as are all the more than 90 reporters on the Metro staff.

Yes, we also employ stringers - experienced, part-time, freelance reporters - generally when our staffers need extra hands and legs to cover a big breaking story.

The Brooklyn event critically cited by Reeves was a funeral procession for a rap star two years ago. Julia Campbell. a freelancer who reported on police stories. worked with at least six staff reporters to cover that event, which turned unruly and led to Campbell's arrest. As she wrote in her own letter to you (E&P, Jan. 23. p.19), Campbell was not a "journalistic Kelly Girl," as Reeves insultingly put it. She was a reporter on assignment, unjustly arrested for doing her job.

Reeves' broader observations about the Times' Metro coverage also require comment. The nature of city news has obviously evolved over the years, like all other news in the Times. Some of the changes may be undesirable, but many are excellent. Most importantly, the local staff is appreciably larger than it was in Reeves time and Metro's mandate has become much broader. We cover the suburbs and the New York region. where half of our local readers live, in a serious, sophisticated way because contemporary issues - such as school vouchers or racism - arise on both sides of the city line.

Incidentally, the New York City budget does not, as Reeves erroneously insisted, get less than a column of type in the Times. The latest budget proposals from both Coy. George Pataki and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. for example, received front-page play, sizable jumps inside, adjoining news analyses, photos, graphics, and, since then, many follow-ups. That is standard around here because we remain The New York Times.

As for the quality of our reporters. they are a match for those of any other generation - and I say that as someone who well appreciates the awesome talents of Homer Bigart, Mike Berger. Jim Hagerty, and many others who ennobled our local coverage in the past. As always, we possess equally wonderful talents on Metro.

Though valued throughout the nation, the Times remains committed to local coverage. …

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