The “Times” Closes the Barn Door

Friday, March 7th, 2008

Publishers Lunch today quotes a memo from the NYT Standards Editor, Criag Whitney, with new guidelines on “single-source profiles” (e.g., autobiographies ala the one of fake memoirist Margaret B. Jones [aka Seltzer], who wrote the recently discredited Love and Consequences):

Single-source profiles of people who are not already well known quantities are traps we have fallen into twice in the past year or two, and that’s too often. Until publishers start fact-checking their own nonfiction books, and that’ll be the day, we should remember that profiles of unknown authors should always include reporting from other sources — not just surrogates of the profilee like agents, publishers, lawyers, etc. — to verify the most important facts. But even when there’s no book involved, the same rule applies. If we can’t find ways to check key facts, names, graduation claims, etc., we should hold the story until we can verify them, and if we can’t, we should be suspicious. Live and learn….”

As if it weren’t difficult enough to get book coverage in newspapers.