Postcard From Peru: Why the Morality Plays Inside The Times Won’t Stop
Mr McNeill made a high-profile stumbling block last May when he appeared on CNN and called the director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to resign to deal with the coronary virus outbreak. A spokesman for the Times said, “Their editors have discussed the issue with them that their job is to report the facts and not to give their opinions.” But he remained central to the world’s greatest story. The Times included its work on the epidemic in its Pulitzer presentation, with two people said to be familiar with it.
That high profile may have caused The Daily Beast to leak the Times’ internal response to the trip to Peru. Some employees then organized a letter stating that “our community is angry and in pain” and that Mr. McNeill’s conduct did not stop him from covering an important story with complex racial disparities. Was. The letter did not call for her to be fired, but for the Times to review its policies.
Other journalists considered the letter inappropriate, attacking a veteran reporter’s career over speech that was not directly linked to his journalism. Some black journalists felt that their white colleagues were rallying to protect Mr. McNeill rather than worry about the impact of his words. A national reporter, John Alligon, tweeted, “You often wonder what your white coworkers with cute looks on your face actually think or say about you – or people like you.”
This is where there is a mess, but in some ways, the general management problem became something else. The employees’ letter was leaked. The News Guild’s internal divisions leaked over the matter. Critics denied Mr. McNeill’s earlier work, and complained on Twitter. Times became the story.
After The Daily Beast reported, Mr McNeill told The Times that he saw no reason to apologize, but within 48 hours the apology began to be drafted, a person with direct knowledge of that document said . He exchanged a series of drafts with the Times management the following week. By 5 February, The Times had made it clear that it would be moved to the less prestigious Beat, and could face ongoing questions from the company’s human resources department. It is not surprising that he resigned. The editors carried forward his apology, which until then seemed ineffectively prolific and strangely late between the two, in an email that announced his resignation.
Questions about The Times’ identity and political leanings are genuine; Differences inside the newsroom will not be easily resolved. But the paper needs to figure out how to address these issues more clearly: Are there like-minded, left-leaning Americans like Times chiefs? Or does it appear to be a vanishing center in a deeply divided country? Is it Elizabeth Warren or Joe Biden? One thing that is clear is that these questions are perhaps not best mediated through mercenaries or resignations with symbolic meaning, or hashed inside the human resources department.
The Times will have to navigate its identity by engaging with the next generation of its audience – people like Ms. Shepherd, who said she was most surprised by the gap between Mr. McNeill’s views and what she would read at her favorite news outlet.
“That’s not what I would have expected from the Times,” she said. “You have 1619 projects. You guys do all the amazing reporting on this, and you can say something like that? “