Writers, editors, and managers

Subject: Writers, editors, and managers
From: "Mike O." <obie1121 -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 18 May 2003 11:00:54 -0700 (PDT)

Has anybody else been following the Jayson Blair story at the NY Times?
I didn't pay much attention at first, but now I am plowing through the
news archives in a little more detail:

Man, this story has everything! It seems to be paralleling a lot of the
threads we are chewing over here on techwr-l:

- is the writer 100% responsible for accuracy
- what are editors resonsible for
- who is to blame for hiring and retaining bad writers
- does the writer need to know subject matter
- what's more important - style or content?
- writers who write installation guides without doing the installation,

And the journalistic community seems to come to some very different
conclusions about where to assign responsibility. It's interesting to
see how the NY Times mamagement has been handling the situation.
Compare this to some of the advice given out on this list:

(from an NY Times article):
> The executive editor of The New York Times...accepted blame for the
> breakdown of communication and oversight that allowed a Times
> to commit frequent acts of journalistic fraud in recent months.

> A growing number of employees have expressed deepening concern about
> what is viewed as a top-down management style that, they say, could
> have contributed to Mr. Blair's ability to do what he did undetected
> for so long.

The managers at the Times seem to be accepting responsibility for the
bad writing, and are dealing with the root causes.

I wonder what it would take for the business IT community to take
similar responsibility for bad software documentation? Perhaps another
national tragedy attributed to bad docs?

Mike O.

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