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NYT Executive Editor: ‘I Don’t Believe Our Role is to Be The Leaders of the Opposition Party’

After the New York Times received significant liberal pushback for an original headline (that was later changed) [1] saying that President Donald Trump condemned racism in the wake of this weekend’s tragic mass shootings, Times executive editor Dean Baquet defended the paper, saying: “I don’t believe our role is to be the leaders of the opposition party.”

In an interview with Gabriel Snyder of Columbia Journalism Review [2], Baquet said journalists have grappled with debates around objectivity for decades.

“Americans have a way of thinking that nothing like this has happened before,” Baquet says. “Picture what the newsrooms of the New York Times and the Washington Post were like when people thought the draft and Vietnam meant that they were literally going to have to fight a war. The New York Times has a strong view about its role. We are not The Nation, even though I have deep respect for them. I think it’s healthy for each generation to come in and discuss what the rules are. You have to accept that there’s something at the core of the New York Times and the Washington Post that won’t change, but there’s a lot that can change at the edges.”

Baquet said newspapers should consider ideological diversity when filling staffing roles.

“I think the way you do it is you just keep working, you keep trying to break stories, you try to do analysis that explains the moment we’re in, you try to diversify your staff to include different viewpoints,” Baquet is quoted as saying. “You just try to work very hard.”

While many conservatives would disagree and often vocalize their disagreement with this sentiment, Snyder wrote that “Baquet doesn’t see himself as the vanguard of the resistance. He takes a much more traditional view of journalists as objective chroniclers of the news, leaving it to readers and pundits to decide what the facts mean.”