It’s been a tough few years for the New York Times. Once upon a time, they were the pinnacle of journalism. In the days when major newspapers jockeyed for supremacy, few publications could compete with the Times’ quality, integrity, and reputation. Boy, those were nice days.
But times have changed. The New York Times has not been immune to the massive decline in printed news. They’ve managed to stay afloat while so many others failed. Recent years have brought painful cutbacks though. A lack of revenue from ads and subscriptions forced the company to rent out floors of their Manhattan building to pay the bills.
But, all’s not lost, yet. There is some truly ground-breaking reporting going on at the New York Times. Maybe it’s rarer than it used to be, but when the Times nails a story, the whole world reacts. I’m speaking, of course, of the Harvey Weinstein sex scandal.
You might not remember this, but it was the New York Times that broke the story. They exposed the once-beloved producer as a serial sex offender, whose own company paid off his victims. That single report blew the lid off of a dark secret in Hollywood, sparking numerous confessions and revelations. The Times can take credit for sparking a tidal wave of news that brought down leaders across Hollywood, the news media, and even government.
That was a nice moment.
Now, the paper responsible for kicking off the “#MeToo” movement is itself facing the music. It turns out the NYT had their own sexual offenders in their midst. While they eventually got around to ousting this cretin, they were all too eager to cover up the facts.
The New York Times is under fire following the announcement of a top editor's resignation, with critics pointing to a lack of transparency in an original statement that did not provide a reason for the departure.
Former metropolitan editor Wendell Jamieson was forced to resign on Monday due to "inappropriate communications" with three of the publication's female employees, according to the paper's own reporting…
According to a Tuesday Variety report, Baquet said that he "feels like shit as a leader" for not publicly providing more details about Jamieson's departure. (The Hill)
It seems like Jamieson was up to no good with three female employees. We don’t know what went on, because the paper is deliberately covering up the details. This same paper, who tracked down people for the dirty details of Weinstein’s crimes are unwilling to come clean about their former editor.
In a meeting with the metro staff Monday afternoon, according to people familiar with the meeting, Baquet acknowledged that the Jamieson investigation was within the #MeToo realm… Beyond that, though, Baquet was necessarily circumspect—citing privacy concerns—when pressed for more information. “I feel like shit as a leader and a journalist not answering questions that I’d have Sarah Huckabee Sanders answer,” he said, according to a person who heard the remark. “No one even knows what the charges are,” one Times journalist told me. “It’s so hard to wrap your head around,” said a metro staffer. “I feel like I’ve been punched in the heart.” (Vanity Fair)
For some reason, Baquet is unwilling to divulge what was going on. There are a few possibilities. For one, Jamieson might have some kind of legal protection. The paper might not be able to spill the beans, without risk of getting sued. Baquet claims privacy concerns. Whose? The victims or the culprit?
We can only assume the paper is trying to protect itself. After so many shaky years, any bad press can further the hurt their business. Just think of it! The very paper that outed Harvey Weinstein, patient zero of the #MeToo movement, is guilty of the same thing!? It’s just too much to imagine.
But the public deserves to know the truth. For the company that spearheaded the #MeToo movement to clam up about their own staff’s indiscretions, it doesn’t inspire confidence.
Of course, the rest of the news pack is ganging up on the Times.
Other journalists, media reporters and critics have targeted Baquet and the Times on Twitter, with some pointing out how aggressively the paper has broken stories about and covered sexual harassment allegations at other organizations. (The Hill)
American journalism is in a tough spot, these days. Both conservatives and liberals have trust issues with our largest publications and news outlets. A vital link between government and the public is at an all-time low. This shouldn’t be. The United States was built on such virtues as free speech and free press. But if you ask most Americans, the mainstream media is a joke. Their naked bias (for one side or another) makes trusting even the most basic story problematic.
Now, on top of that, the biggest newspaper is gun shy about admitting what happened in their own office. All that talk of transparency, integrity, and world-class reporting goes out the window, when it’s in your home court, eh Baquet?
The media has a long way to go before they can restore the public’s faith in them. Some of the most important things they can do—eliminating bias among reporters and coverage—might never happen. But they should at least get the basics right. Hiding the facts, when one of your top editors might have been assaulting staff? Big mistake, Times.
Now is the time for complete honesty. Admit to your readers that you screwed up. That you employed a man who was breaking the rules (and the law)—even while you were exposing others for the same things. Make it right. Maybe, just maybe, you can win back a few readers.
But the longer you drag it out, the worse it will get.