A NYT Editors' Note this morning acknowledges that yesterday's page-one news analysis of the Gulf oil spill should have made clear that one of the sources it quoted -- who told the NYT "the sky isn't falling" with regard to the spill -- works for an organization with strong ties to the oil industry.
Those industry connections, and other dubious sourcing elements in the story, were reported yesterday morning by The NYTPicker.
The story, by reporters John M. Broder and Tom Zeller Jr., quoted Quenton R. Dokken, executive director of the Gulf of Mexico Foundation, as an objective expert on the crisis in the Gulf.
But as The NYTPicker noted yesterday, the foundation includes several industry leaders on its board, including an official at Transocean -- the offshore drilling contractor that owned the Deepwater Horizon, the rig that exploded last month, leading to the spill.
Here's the full text of the Editors' Note:
A front-page news analysis article on Tuesday discussed the uncertainty over the ultimate environmental impact of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. One expert quoted was Quenton R. Dokken, a marine biologist who is the executive director of the Gulf of Mexico Foundation. (He said the spill “isn’t the end of the Gulf of Mexico,” but also said that “we’ve always got to ask ourselves how long can we keep heaping these insults on the gulf and having it bounce back.”)
The article described the Gulf of Mexico Foundation simply as a conservation group. It should have included more information about the organization, a nonprofit group that says its mission is “to promote and facilitate conservation of the health and productivity of the Gulf of Mexico and its resources” through research and other programs. While the group says the majority of its funding comes from federal and state grants, it also receives some money from the oil industry and other business interests in the gulf, and includes industry executives on its board.
UPDATE: We've since learned that a professor at the University of California at Davis first noted the presence of a Transocean official on the Gulf of Mexico Foundation board on the Huffington Post at 2:19 am on Tuesday, prior to our original story. We've changed our post, above, to reflect the fact that The NYTPicker wasn't the first to report on that aspect of the story.