Let's get our conflict of interest out of the way first. Clark Hoyt's Public Editor column today credits The NYTPicker with breaking the story of Brad Stone's web of connections to the sources in his page-one story this week, and with "embarrassing The Times" in the process.
Thanks, Clark! We're flattered to get a hyperlink in your column, and to appear in the NYT itself.
More to the point is the fact that Hoyt's reporting made even more clear the nature of Stone's failings. It turns out Stone and his editor knew about the sourcing problems we pointed out, and went ahead with them anyway. But business editor Larry Ingrassia now tells Hoyt that "Brad should have cast the net wider" in his reporting.
Hoyt himself had harsh words for Stone's story, which purported to prove that more Americans check their email and social media networks before even having coffee in the morning. Hoyt's conclusion:
But it should surprise no one that people who blog and post would be consumed with electronic networking. Whether the article spotted a trend among a broad swath of Americans is impossible to tell, at least from the sources The Times quoted.
Hoyt's right. It's not news that Internet-savvy professionals would go online first thing in the morning. He correctly said Stone's sources were not only compromised by their relationship to the NYT and to Stone, but also not representative of a broad social phenomenon. Good point, Clark!
It's refreshing to see Hoyt come down squarely against the NYT for a change. In the case of the problems in the Stone story the NYT's position had so far only amounted to a short comment to The NYTPicker from spokeswoman Catherine Mathis. But in the face of Hoyt's objections, the NYT has backed off the story, too.
“You can’t do a story on a national trend with so little evidence," standards editor Craig Whitney told Hoyt, in reference to Stone's story. We agree.