Readers have weighed in to complain about The New York Times’s Aug. 5 piece on U.S. Olympics hurdler Lolo Jones. Below is the response I have sent to those who e-mailed me about this:
Thanks for your message. I have received several complaints about this. The article by Jere Longman appeared under the Olympics-coverage “In the Rings” signature, which The Times uses to signify that the article is a point-of-view piece and not straight news coverage. This means, in The Times’s style, that the writer has some latitude to insert his own perspective.
I have written in the past about problems that arise with this approach, which sometimes translates into too much opinion appearing in the news columns. In this particular case, I think the writer was particularly harsh, even unnecessarily so.
I queried the sports editor about it, and his response was that “One person’s harsh is another person’s tough minded,” and that the writer, “while acknowledging Jones’s accomplishment and qualities of perseverance and candor, thinks this female athlete fell short.”
I believe writers like Jere Longman, who does have a long and worthy track record at The Times, should have some room to express their hard-earned perspective. But this piece struck me as quite harsh and left me, along with others, wondering why the tone was so strong.
Thanks for expressing your view. The sports desk is certainly aware at this point that a number of readers were unhappy about the piece.