A 75 minute NYT meeting, and other matters

First, HT to PL. Now a little sample from NYT senior management and reporters of the company during a grueling 75 minute group meeting:

Management: I think it’s useful sometimes to show the journey a little bit of how we reach these decisions. Because otherwise it can feel a little bit like this is a single case in which we’re deciding whether something is or is not racist. The conversation that I heard was really a conversation about labels and about whether we’re going to use labels as shorthand for something that we can convey through words and actions and with greater color and detail. And the moment that, for me, really hammered home the risk of some of these labels was actually when someone passed along to me a headline that we had run six months before the “Trump Makes Comments Condemned as Racist” headline. And the headline we had used six months before was, “Omar Makes Comments Condemned as Anti-Semitic.” And the amount of pushback that that I and others received in that moment from leaders in the Jewish community was really considerable. People wanted us to call this phrase, “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby,” an anti-Semitic phrase. They pointed out that this is actually an historically anti-Semitic trope. Though that it was an anti-Semitic trope was actually referred to in the body of the story, which I pointed out. But we’re really cautious with labels, because labels tend to slip. They tend to stick to each other. And I think that the conversation I heard Dean and other members of the leadership have was about whether or not those types of shortcuts actually end up doing the exact thing that we don’t want, which is keep people from reading, would keep people from actually understanding, by giving folks who are inclined to be skeptical that that label is fairly applied—whether it’s anti-Semitic or racist or anything else—to keep those people from having an easy out not to look at what actually just occurred, and what happened, and what the implications are, and what the effects are on the community. And I think this is a really tricky moment right now. You know, someone did a study of Twitter shares that showed that 70 percent of all stories shared on Twitter were never opened. And to me, that’s just a reminder that so much of the world is judging before they’re actually engaging. And I don’t think any of us would defend the headline from last week. Not only would you not defend it, we changed it.

Reporter: I have another question about racism. I’m wondering to what extent you think that the fact of racism and white supremacy being sort of the foundation of this country should play into our reporting. Just because it feels to me like it should be a starting point, you know? Like these conversations about what is racist, what isn’t racist. I just feel like racism is in everything. It should be considered in our science reporting, in our culture reporting, in our national reporting. And so, to me, it’s less about the individual instances of racism, and sort of how we’re thinking about racism and white supremacy as the foundation of all of the systems in the country.

Now you know what life is like on Jupiter and Mars, or maybe in an entirely different universe (or maybe just at Harvard and Yale and CNN). Changing the subject, but only slightly, you may recall that in the Shawshank Redemption, the really bad guy was Warden Samuel Norton, who had people tortured and murdered. Fast forward to Epstein, where a couple of senior managers of MCC were swiftly moved out (e.g., Lamine N’Diaye and Shirley Skipper-Scott), but we know almost nothing about them from the NYT. Surprised?

2 Responses to “A 75 minute NYT meeting, and other matters”

  1. feeblemind Says:

    I think this story parallels the earlier post about the BBC pulling “offensive ads”.

    NYT can dance to their tune, for now, but what happens when the objections become more numerous and perhaps daily?

    There is no way they can write stories to mollify all of the perpetually offended.

  2. feeblemind Says:

    A very good read by way of PL.

    We may be seeing the beginnings a crisis for modern Darwinism, which appears to have gaps and contradictions that can’t be explained or explained away. The rumbles about the anomalies in Darwinism are ruthlessly suppressed in the media and in academia, but as with all such crises, the problems are impossible to suppress forever, and the doubts are increasingly leaking out.

    A long read.


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