In light of the correction to that New York Times abortion story that Byron linked to yesterday, it’s worth taking a look at the timeline of events that led up to it:
April 2006: The New York Times Magazine runs the original story about abortion in El Salvador.
November 2006: A pro-life group alerts the editors to a serious problem with the story.
November 2006 – January 2007: The Times does nothing.
January 2007: Times public editor Byron Calame criticizes the Times: “Accuracy and fairness were not pursued with the vigor Times readers have a right to expect.”
January 2007: The Times finally corrects.
I left one event out of that timeline: Shortly after Calame’s column ran, the New York Observer reported that NYT editor Bill Keller was thinking of doing away with the position of public editor.
Without Calame, it is highly probable that the New York Times would never have corrected this story. Failing to replace him after his term is up would be bad for Times readers, whom he represents. It would also be bad for the Times.