The New York Times has consistently violated their own rules regarding quotes and such in their Guidelines on Integrity (wait...let me laugh for a moment here...ha ha):
Quotations. Readers should be able to assume that every word between quotation marks is what the speaker or writer said. The Times does not “clean up” quotations. If a subject’s grammar or taste is unsuitable, quotation marks should be removed and the awkward passage paraphrased. Unless the writer has detailed notes or a recording, it is usually wise to paraphrase long comments, since they may turn up worded differently on television or in other publications. “Approximate” quotations can undermine readers’ trust in The Times.
The writer should, of course, omit extraneous syllables like “um” and may judiciously delete false starts. If any further omission is necessary, close the quotation, insert new attribution and begin another quotation. (The Times does adjust spelling, punictuation, capitalization and abbreviations within a quotation for consistent style.) Detailed guidance is in the stylebook entry headed “quotations.” In every case, writer and editor must both be satisfied that the intent of the subject has been preserved.
In retrospect, is The Times saying that both writer and editor were satisified with the badly cropped quotation of Cpl. Jeffrey B. Starr making as if he regretted going to Iraq? Why did NY Times leave out the most important quote at the end of his letter that summarized his whole feeling about fighting in Iraq so Iraqis could have their taste of freedom? This is the part that The New York Times purposely and wantonly omitted in their article:
"I don't regret going, everybody dies but few get to do it for something as important as freedom. It may seem confusing why we are in Iraq, it's not to me. I'm here helping these people, so that they can live the way we live. Not have to worry about tyrants or vicious dictators. To do what they want with their lives. To me that is why I died. Others have died for my freedom, now this is my mark. To do what they want with their lives."
Now, how come The Times isn't following their "Guidelines on Integrity"? It's ironic to read what The Times has to say at the beginning of their "Guidelines on Integrity" when it comes to tolerating on bad reporting/writing.
At a time of growing and even justified public suspicion about the impartiality, accuracy and integrity of some journalists and some journalism, it is imperative that The Times and its staff maintain the highest possible standards to insure that we do nothing that might erode readers’ faith and confidence in our news columns. This means that staff members should be vigilant in avoiding any activity that might pose an actual or apparent conflict of interest and thus threaten the newspaper’s ethical standing. And it also means that the journalism we practice daily must be beyond reproach.
No one needs to be reminded that falsifying any part of a news report cannot be tolerated and will result automatically in disciplinary action up to and including termination. But in a climate of increased scrutiny throughout the news business, these further guidelines are offered, to resolve questions that sometimes arise about specific practices:
A little late on staff's conflict of interest when it comes to writing. And yet they wonder why readerships have gone down. Perhaps a sign of a trend?
Read the rest of The New York Times "Guidelines on Integrity," it's a hoot.