Accuracy in Media

The New York Times public editor Liz Spayd took a parting shot at the establishment media just days after the paper announced it was eliminating her position.

The Times created the position in the aftermath of the Jayson Blair scandal. But apparently publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. feels that an in-house watchdog is no longer necessary, according to a memo he sent to the staff:

“The public editor position, created in the aftermath of a grave journalistic scandal, played a crucial part in rebuilding our readers’ trusts by acting as our in-house watchdog. We welcomed that criticism, even when it stung. But today, our followers on social media and our readers across the internet have come together to collectively serve as a modern watchdog, more vigilant and forceful than one person could ever be. Our responsibility is to empower all of those watchdogs, and to listen to them, rather than to channel their voice through a single office.”

Spayd, who was the sixth person to hold the position and was under contract until 2018, decided to leave early. She let readers know that she had doubts about the Times’ and other legacy newspaper’s ability to hold themselves accountable without a public editor, reader advocate or ombudsman:

“Mike Morell, former acting director of the C.I.A. and a backer of Hillary Clinton, earlier this week likened the U.S. media’s reaction to Donald Trump to the Venezuelan media’s reaction when Hugo Chávez became president nearly 20 years ago. With little political opposition to Chávez, the media assumed that role, Morrell said, and ultimately lost its credibility with the Venezuelan people.

The U.S. isn’t Venezuela but the media here shouldn’t fall into the same trap. I don’t worry that The Times, or The Washington Post or others with the most resources will fail to pursue ripe investigative targets. And I hope they do. But in their effort to hold Trump accountable, will they play their hands wisely and fairly? Or will they make reckless decisions and draw premature conclusions?

And who will be watching, on this subject or anything else, if they don’t acquit themselves well? At The Times, it won’t be the public editor. As announced on Wednesday, that position is being eliminated, making this my last column. Media pundits and many readers this week were questioning the decision to end this role, fearing that without it, no one will have the authority, insider perspective or ability to demand answers from top Times editors. There’s truth in that. But it overlooks a larger issue.

It’s not really about how many critics there are, or where they’re positioned, or what Times editor can be rounded up to produce answers. It’s about having an institution that is willing to seriously listen to that criticism, willing to doubt its impulses and challenge the wisdom of the inner sanctum. Having the role was a sign of institutional integrity, and losing it sends an ambiguous signal: Is the leadership growing weary of such advice or simply searching for a new model? We’ll find out soon enough.”

To answer Spayd’s question, the Times had grown weary of the criticism that she and her predecessors heaped upon the paper, and for their admission that the paper had a liberal bias.

With Spayd’s departure the Times can pursue it’s anti-Trump agenda without being criticized from within for its biased coverage.

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  • Amargomate

    The NYT don’t deserve a discussion.
    Let’s not waste our time with them.
    Let them fall in a ball of flames… end of the story.
    Nothing is forever… so good bye NYT…

  • sox83cubs84

    The New York Slimes: Good to have around when you run out of toilet paper.

  • Bruce

    Since The Truth is like gravity, all those perpetuating lies and propaganda will soon fall and turn to ashes. Even when NWO does take over, all those who helped it get there wont be rewarded… The’ll be floating down East River with 2 slugs in the back of their head.

  • Amargomate


  • jerry.rebar

    The Times need not be worried about, daily, interest in them goes lower

  • coloradobear

    Works well in a cat’s litter box or in your bird cage. I’ve also used it on camping trips as a fire starter. That’s about it

  • Charles Sever

    If I read this article right, they haven’t learned anything, they are still going to be anti-Trump. If that is the case then they will be just like they are. Has been and always looking for the lies about President Trump, but they are up front with their bias. I’ll give them that.

  • taptoudt

    Not really. It doesn’t work well at that function.

  • Mark Wynn

    A public editor would just muck up the Times agendas.
    After all, when even Director of the FBI Comey kept mum on their bogus story claiming President Trump was under investigation, why would they want one of their own staff calling them out?

  • gobrien

    Despite Comey’s testimony that the NY Times stories were fake, the NYT stands by their story. They TRIED to contact their “unnamed sources” to verify their account and guess what? — They couldn’t find them. What does that tell you?

  • John Sprinklebumj

    I was going to put my copy of the NYT in the bottom of my bird cage. Could not do it, turns out he is very allergic to garbage.

  • John Sprinklebumj

    Only if your bird is NOT allergic to garbage.

  • Slugger_McBuster

    The NY Times can’t even allow open discussions on their articles; not even their opinion pieces. When they allow reader comments at all, they’re pre-moderated and weighted in favor of the deranged and demented liberal viewpoint.

    The NY Times has become the newspaper equivalent of a broken vinyl record. Monotonous. Busted. Closed-loop. Annoying. Good for brainwashing and hypnotizing weak-minded stupefied liberal types.