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Can The NYTimes Save Itself? A Good Sign

Man bites dog! Journalists within the Paper Of Record protest against demands of woke crybullies
Screen Shot 2023-02-22 at 10.43.09 AM

You may recall last week's controversy in which a huge number of NYT contributors, and some journalists who work there, signed an open letter denouncing the Times for its coverage supposedly biased against transgendered people. As a regular reader and subscriber to the Times, I agree that the Times's coverage of all things trans has been weighted in one direction: towards the celebratory! But lately, the paper has been more balanced, publishing data-driven stories questioning the official Narrative. It's late -- the story in Europe been far more gender-critical for longer -- but it's still welcome. Nevertheless, deviating even one millimeter from the Narrative was a cultural atrocity in the minds of LGBT activists and allies, hence their public denunciation of the Times.

But then a curious thing happened. Rather than falling all over themselves to placate the woke crybullies, Times leadership issued a public statement defending its standards, and defending the practice of actual journalism. Maybe, just maybe, the people who run the newsroom have grasped an important lesson from the Summer of Floyd: that if you surrender to the woke mob within the institution, there will be no end to the capitulations that will be demanded of you. You have to fight back, without apology. And so the Times leadership did, bless them.

Now comes the cavalry from the newsroom itself, in the form of a letter signed by a number of Times journalists, including some big names, attacking the newspaper's union representatives for supporting the indefensible attack on journalism represented by the crybullies' demands. Here's the text, published by Vanity Fair (someone must have leaked it), and the signatories, who sent it to local union president Susan DeCarava:

Dear Susan,

We are writing to you privately in response to your February 17th letter, which we were surprised to see.

Like you, we support the right to a non-hostile workplace where everyone is respected and supported. We believe The New York Times should never engage in biased or discriminatory practices of any kind. We all strive to be part of a truly diverse news organization where everyone is treated fairly. We welcome robust and respectful critical feedback from colleagues, either in direct conversation or through internal Times channels.

But your letter appears to suggest a fundamental misunderstanding of our responsibilities as journalists. Regretfully, our own union leadership now seems determined to undermine the ethical and professional protections that we depend on to guard the independence and integrity of our journalism.

Factual, accurate journalism that is written, edited, and published in accordance with Times standards does not create a hostile workplace.

Every day, partisan actors seek to influence, attack, or discredit our work. We accept that. But what we don’t accept is what the Guild appears to be endorsing: A workplace in which any opinion or disagreement about Times coverage can be recast as a matter of “workplace conditions.”

Our duty is to be independent. We pursue the facts wherever they may lead. We are journalists, not activists. That line should be clear.

Debates over fairness and accuracy are perfectly reasonable. We understand and respect that the Guild has an absolute duty to offer representation to members when they are subject to discipline by management. But we do not think it is the role of our union to be engaged in – and taking sides in – public debates over internal editorial decisions.

Our hope is that the coming days will bring more constructive internal dialogue among Times employees and with Guild leadership that can help unify and improve our news organization. And we ask that our union work to advance, not erode, our journalistic independence.

Sincerely,

Reed Abelson
Maria Abi-Habib
Peter Baker
Emily Bazelon
Brooks Barnes
Julian Barnes
Susan Beachy
Jack Begg
Ginia Bellafante
Walt Bogdanich
Alan Blinder
Kellan Browning
Russ Buettner 
David Chen
Nicholas Confessore
Rob Copeland
Reid Epstein
Elizabeth Dias
Harvey Dickson
Susan Dominus
Joe Drape
Jesse Drucker
Sydney Ember
Maureen Farrell
Matt Flegenheimer
Ellen Gabler
Trip Gabriel
Robert Gebeloff
Adam Goldman
Ruth Graham
Michael Grynbaum
Danny Hakim
Anemona Hartocollis
Virginia Hughes
Sharon LaFraniere
Joshua Katz
Clifford Krauss
Nicholas Kulish
Steven Lee Myers
Lisa Lerer
Sarah Lyall
Veronica Majerol
Jonathan Mahler
Sapna Maheshwari
Apoorva Mandavilli
Mark Mazzetti
Mike McIntire
Jennifer Medina
Phyllis Messinger
Rebecca O’Brien
Dennis Overbye
Ken Paul
Michael Paulson
Ivan Penn
Jeremy Peters
Michael Powell
William Rashbaum
Rebecca Robbins
Matthew Rosenberg 
Katie Rosman
Michael Rothfeld
Jim Rutenberg
Margot Sanger-Katz
Charlie Savage
Stephanie Saul
Jennifer Schuessler
Kim Severson
Jessica Silver-Greenberg
Jeff Sommer
Nicole Sperling 
Emily Steel
Katie Thomas 
Marcela Valdes
Ken Vogel
Nancy Wartik
Mark Walker
Ben Weiser
Elizabeth Williamson
Michael Wilson
Michael Wines
David Yaffe-Bellany
Kate Zernike

It is so, so encouraging to see institutions, and people who work within them, fighting back against this woke tyranny.

Comments

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Eusebius Pamphilus
Eusebius Pamphilus
Not to be a curmudgeon but this is the Asch line playing out in real life. Some on the left began to resist, "see J.K. Rowling, Dave Chappelle and Joe Rogan as examples". Once a few people stood up it became easier for others to stand up, which they have been doing. Now the Times has seen the writing on the wall and is finally being brave..... but not really. They would have been being brave if they had done so when Rowling, Chappelle and Rogan were doing it. That was more than a year ago. The Times and its management are just opportunist going where the wind blows them. But yes, I'm happy that is the way the wind is blowing.
schedule 12 months ago
    Eusebius Pamphilus
    Eusebius Pamphilus
    That should say Asch Line Study btw and I should also say you Rod, Libs of Tiktok and others. You deserve a pat on the back for this as well. Although the left will never admit it, your writing does make an impact.
    schedule 12 months ago
Bogdán Emil
Bogdán Emil
Amazing.
schedule 12 months ago
Fran Macadam
Fran Macadam
No one can save themselves. The record of always being on the wrong side, extends back more than a century, so don't expect any change, just some sort of struggle session. Moreover, there is no reckoning with the lies that were peddled during the Russiagate hoax, just more doubling down in deception. Lose the overton window imposed on your mind by the media organization that only prints what fits their agenda. I won't call it news because it is heavily propagandistic.
schedule 12 months ago
John Landkamer
John Landkamer
It's not bad, but let them expand the acceptable narrative on racial topics and I'll really start paying attention.
schedule 12 months ago