Wednesday, August 08, 2007

NOAH FELDMAN ISSUE: NY TIMES RESPONDS TO OU; OU REPLIES. I blogged last week about the OU calling on The New York Times to apologize for the misleading first paragraph of Feldmans essay, based on revelations reported in the Jewish Week.

The New York Times has responded, defending the essay--and the OU has replied

The New York Times wrote back:
I'm grateful to you for expressing your concerns about Noah Feldman's essay. I also appreciate your efforts to bring the recent article in the Jewish Week to our attention.

The article in the Jewish Week, however, does not accurately describe the essay we published or our editorial process.

In his essay, Mr. Feldman does not assert, as the Jewish Week claims, that he was "erased" from the photograph or that he and his wife were "stricken from the photo." Nowhere does he say, as you put it in your letter to us, that he was "deliberately cropped out" of the picture. The assertions that you and the Jewish Week attribute to the essay are assertions that are not made in the essay.

In researching the article, we obtained the original contact sheets for the pictures taken by Lenny Eisenberg. The record shows that Eisenberg took five wide-angle photos of the entire crowd at the class reunion. In addition, he took a photo of the crowd from the left side, which includes Mr. Feldman and his wife; and a photo of the crowd from the right side, which does not include Mr. Feldman and his wife. The Maimonides School newsletter chose to publish the photo of the crowd from the right side - the photo that does not include Mr. Feldman and his wife. These facts are entirely consistent with the essay we published, where the author writes that a "group photo" was taken and yet when the alumni newsletter appeared, he and his girlfriend were "nowhere to be found."

A. S.
Senior Editor
New York Times Magazine
Here is the OU reply:
Thank you for your reply.
Frankly, we find it hard to comprehend.

Your "defense" is that Feldman's statements are literally true. But the clear impression Feldman (not to mention the essay's accompanying illustration) wanted to convey - and every reader we know came away with - was that the photo was cropped to exclude him and his girlfriend and no one else.

Moreover, your account of your editorial inquiry into what photos were taken and which was chosen for publication highlights your recognition that this element of the essay is an important one for setting its tone and so you bothered to research the facts.

Feldman strongly conveys the impression that he and his girlfriend alone - not he, his girlfriend and a number of others - were "nowhere to be found" in the photo and the editors let that misimpression stand.

The Times ought to do better than hide behind such a literalist reading - is that the standard by which all your articles are deemed "fit to print"?

For the "paper of record," your reply is most disappointing....... We hope the Public Editor will take a look at this matter as well - we believe an "independent view" is warranted.

Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb
Executive Vice President
Orthodox Union

Nathan J. Diament
Director of Public Policy
Orthodox Union
And there the matter rests.

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