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John B. OakesJohn B. Oakes
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How do you handle a problem that cuts across lines? For instance, suppose you had a Russian man and a Chinese man. If you had this sort of a situation, who would write the Soviet-China position?


This is done purely on an ad hoc basis, not random, but in the sense, who happens to be in that day, if one man is writing about one thing, and the other will write about something else. Of course, occasionally two men wish to write about the same subject. Then this is the unhappy duty of the editor-in-charge, namely me, to decide who will write which. This is a normal administrative decision that doesn't really present a very great problem. I might add that most of our editorial people, while not intense specialists, are specializing in an area and fields, and there isn't as much duplication, or potential duplication, as you might think. There is some, and I just have to make the decision.

You know it's very important that members of the editorial board of our paper get out. I'm a very violent enemy of the ivory tower concept of editorializing, and I feel it's terribly important that the people who write editorials for the Times not only be informed, which is obvious, but also be sophisticated about what they're writing about. I think that's an important point, and I don't like to feel that we're writing about things that anybody who is in the know on these matters can possibly say the next morning, “Oh, my God, these fellows are naïve.” This kills me as much, almost worse, I would say, than if they said that they were factually wrong. I'm not sure which of these two things is worse. Both of them are unforgivable, in my book. To be factually wrong, of course, is unforgivable, but to be naïve is almost equally unforgivable, in writing editorials about major subjects. I think we have

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