Wednesday, May 5, 2010

UPDATE: NYT Publishes Editors' Note Saying Its Page-One Story Should Have Reported An Expert's Oil-Industry Connections.

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.


Frolic said...

Did you see Zeller's response at over at Propublica?

He admits they should have more fully described the industry funded group, but then argues that "enterprising readers" could have followed the link to learn more.

Is this Journalism 2.0? No need to give all the pertinent facts, the readers can just Google them if they want!

Anonymous said...

kudos. for the most part, you guys keep getting better and beter.

Anonymous said...

Absent picker what would've happened here? Are they asking themselves this on 41st St? Time for Times to buy and hype the site.

Anonymous said...

It is downright shocking to think an expert in oil drilling would have “connections” to the “oil industry.”

You’d think they’d have connections to the organic produce industry.
- CJ

Anonymous said...

Be careful what you wish for. Soon we'll be reading quotes followed by two or three paragraph bios of the person and all of the consulting jobs they've taken in the last decade. And then we'll start getting information about their spouses and ....

The result will be unreadable. I'm with Zeller.

Anonymous said...

The Huffington Post reported the problems with The Times story at 2:19 a.m. on May 4. How could Nytpicker have reported it first? Did you steal the information and claim it to be your own? Will there be a correction/acknowledgement?


Thanks for alerting us to the Huffington Post item. We've updated our post.

Anonymous said...

This is graphic but NYT has been systematically down playing the disaster from the beginning. It's almost as if Brits are writing all the stories about BP.

It took them a while to write about past problems at BP even before this disaster but only after almost everybody else including dailykos dug up and reported about the dirt.

NYT may be located in New York but it might as well be in London for all its sophomoric infatuation with anything British. Read The Lede blog in NYT sometimes.