Can The NYTimes Save Itself? A Good Sign
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.
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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:
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.
Steven Lee Myers
It is so, so encouraging to see institutions, and people who work within them, fighting back against this woke tyranny.