ny times publishes first video letter to the editor 09.15.2007, 12:02 AM
posted by ben vershbow
The Times has published its first video "letter to the editor," a 10-minute mini-documentary by Charles Ferguson on the decision by L. Paul Bremer and other US officials to disband the Iraqi army shortly after the US occupation began. The video is posted as a rebuttal to a recent op-ed by Bremer that tried to redistribute some of the blame for that catastrophic blunder that arguably gave birth to the Sunni insurgency.
This is no doubt a milestone for the paper, although calling it a letter to the editor is slightly disingenuous. Ferguson isn't just your average concerned reader, he's a highly respected filmmaker and author who has made a full length doc about Iraq, "No End in Sight," from which much of this video's material is taken.
Moreover, at ten minutes, and meticulously edited and produced, filled with interviews with top military brass and gov't officials, the clip is more on par (at the very least) with a full op-ed. The main opinion page even features it as such - ?under op-ed contributors - ?rather than placing it down among the letters. Will we eventually see actual ad hoc video letters to the editor from "readers" at large? That could be interesting.
Nomenclature aside, though, this is a fantastic broadening of the Times' editorial output. Once again, they prove themselves to be one of the more innovative digital publishers around.
sol gaitan on September 26, 2007 1:14 PM:
"No End in Sight" is a perfect rebuttal to Bremen's op-ed, and the fact that Charles Ferguson is a filmmaker and author shouldn't prevent him from expressing his opinion as a reader. What is interesting here is to realize that the digital version of a paper allows for a video, in this case a synopsis of a longer piece, to be a letter to the editor, and that they have the intelligence to use it as such.