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October 29, 2003

Case Closed: Siegal Report Online Again

This note from a Times VP came Wednesday afternoon, in response to this.

UPDATE, OCT. 29, 4:40 pm. The link to the Siegal report now works again. I got this note:

We are in the process of re-establishing the links to the Siegal Committee Report. We removed the report to keep the site current but are happy to put it back up if people find it useful.


Catherine Mathis
VP, Corporate Communications
The New York Times Company

Many thanks, Ms. Mathis. I am sure many people will find it useful. Go read it.

(Note to readers: This is material I had originally posted about the missing link to the Siegal report. I removed it from the big post commenting in detail about the report because it’s moot— now that the link is back. — JR)

[Original title:]

The Siegal Report, a Triumph of Self Refection at the Times, Becomes the Case of the Missing Link.
My suggestion to Daniel Okrent, the new Public Editor at the New York Times, is to solve the case of the missing link.

I posted a little letter about it at Romenesko last week. And I commend the case to Okrent for his first investigation. For the very document that created his position and gave it a fine charter, The Siegal Report, has gone missing from the Web. Why?

That’s why I wrote to Romenesko’s Letters page, and he ran it. You see, the Siegal Report used to be online, in pdf form. It was there in late July and through the summer at the Times Company’s corporate site, here.

Now every link I have found is busted, and the search turns up zip. Copies of the report are “around,” however; and after my letter ran, asking WHY NO LINK? several copies were sent to me (thanks, senders) but no one sent me a url that’s good. I had a copy of the report already, heavily marked up. But my job is to write about the thing here, on the World Wide Web, and get people out there to read the original in full, so as to check my claims against their own study of it. That’s why the case matters to me. The missing link is making the Siegal report, which was made public July 30, 2003, much less public today. Is that the right direction?

This, despite a passage in Bill Keller’s introductory note, from the day it became news: “The Siegal Report, which we are releasing in full to the staff and public…” Why was the plug pulled? When I discovered it was gone, I didn’t know. Maybe there’s a story in it, I thought. Could be some web assistant hit the wrong button, right? I asked Len Apcar, head of the Times site and a nice person, what he knew. He said he would try to find out and get back to me. And he did, just before I hit the button to post this:

Jay: The report came down in the interest of keeping the corporate site fresh, according to Toby Usnik, a spokesman for the company. Toby said: “We removed it just a few weeks ago in the interest of keeping site content current. We continue to provide copies immediately when asked although that’s only happened twice since we removed it.”

Well, there you are Daniel Okrent— appointed yesterday. This Times reader respectfully suggests that you look into the case of the missing link. For it cannot be in the interest of the public or the Times or Mr. Okrent himself that this report remain offline. My predicition is they will come to their senses and it will be back up soon. I also predict that when it has a url again, more than the two people will request to have a look.

Posted by Jay Rosen at October 29, 2003 4:57 PM