Readers' Representative Journal

A conversation on newsroom ethics and standards

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Introduction

Welcome to the L.A. Times readers' representative office, now online. Since 1999, we've forwarded thousands of reader questions and criticisms to reporters, photographers and editors, and sent responses from the newsroom back to readers. The Times' efforts to connect readers and reporters have included the addition, just over a year ago, of e-mail addresses at the end of articles.

Until now the back-and-forth has been mostly one-on-one and internal. From now on many of those conversations will appear on this page. We hope you'll come to think of it as a gathering of stimulating people exchanging interesting ideas. Here's how to find your way around:

In the center rail will be ...

  • Q&A -- Readers' questions and staffers' answers on how The Times covers stories, including general inquiries about practices as well as specific comments on particular news articles
  • "Ask a Staffer" -- a chance to get the story behind the story from reporters, photographers and editors
  • "Whatever happened to" -- where readers can ask for updates on past stories
  • Grammar critiques

And on the right rail will be....

  • The L.A. Times' ethics guidelines
  • FAQs/general (outside-the-newsroom operations such as how to buy a back copy of The Times or request a  vacation stop)
  • FAQs/issues and accuracy (often-asked questions about newsroom practices)
  • A directory of newsroom staffers
  • A list of groups that work to protect the 1st Amendment and keep the public informed

Also, the left rail includes a link to corrections, many of which are the result of reader alerts.

The plan is to post several items a day in response to reader inquiries. We'll start off gradually as readers and staffers  -- and this office -- learn how to use this as a tool.

Welcome, and feel free to submit your points or responses to what you read in The Times, or what you read here.  All comments will be read and forwarded to the appropriate Times staffers. Those that touch on topics of wide interest or raise new aspects of the conversation will be posted.

 
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Comments (4)

I think this is a great idea to have a public exchange of perspectives between the readers and the journalists. Your readers will learn more and feel like they are better shaping the reporting based on an assumption that feedback is enlightening.

This is a good start. However, if past history is any example, the accuracy issues will dominate this blog. Hopefully, a public airing of some of the more egregious examples of blatant partisanship, and outright fabrications will encourage the writers to be a touch more accurate in the future. One can only hope.

I hope that this blog will be used to encourage conversation, as well as giving a new route for writers to get information-- the interview comes to you!

Jamie Gold, readers' representative, responds to JD:

This is similar to other comments sometimes received in the readers' representative office. When readers send general notes like this, we write back seeking specifics, in hopes of learning where readers see bias or error -- or more egregiously in this comment, outright fabrication. In this case, I sent this reader a note and have not received a response to his general allegations. It's important for The Times to know where readers see what they consider to be bias or errors. Corrections appear on Page A2 and in the online corrections space daily.
[Update: After this was posted, JD wrote to say that he had indeed responded (this office has no record of having received that e-mail). His note, re-sent, spelled out that he was seeking correction on an Oct. 27, 2007 opinion column. Those allegations had been looked into weeks ago; editors and this office had determined that no correction was warranted.]


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