Times names committee for probe

NEW YORK -- The New York Times on Wednesday announced a committee of 20 staff members and two outside news executives to review newsroom policies after the Jayson Blair scandal.

The Times named retiring Associated Press president Louis D. Boccardi and Joann Byrd, outgoing Seattle Post-Intelligencer editorial page editor, to the committee.

The committee, headed by the Times' Assistant managing editor Allan Siegal, "will conduct a comprehensive review" of the Times' newsroom policies "in the aftermath of the Jayson Blair episode," according to a memo to the newspaper's staff.

"The committee's charge is to determine when, where, how and why our newsroom's culture, organizational processes and actions led to a failure of our journalism," the memo said.

Blair, a reporter, resigned from the Times on May 1 after the newspaper found fraud, plagiarism and inaccuracies in 36 of 73 articles written between October and April that it examined.

A third non-Times member may be added, the memo said, and the outside members will "serve as our sounding board and reality check: We want to be told forcefully if we are going too easy on ourselves."

Tentative topics include hiring practices, recruiting and career tracking; the editorial process, including detecting and preventing errors; ethical concerns, such as the use of unidentified sources; and whether the Times should hire an ombudsman.

The committee will make recommendations to Publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Executive Editor Howell Raines and Managing Editor Gerald Boyd.