×

Please verify

Watch LIVE

NY Times editor scolds her employer for 'preaching the gospel of diversity, but not following it

Media
Mario Tama/Getty Images

The New York Times' public editor laid into her employer over the weekend for having a hypocritical double standard on workplace diversity.

According to Liz Spayd, whose job at the Times is to ensure that the paper is ethical, honest and follows correct journalistic procedure, the Times' newsroom has a "blinding whiteness" to it, despite the paper often taking progressive positions that favor diversity.

From her scathing column criticizing the paper's lack of diversity:

ONLY two of the 20-plus reporters who covered the presidential campaign for The New York Times were black. None were Latino or Asian. That’s less diversity than you’ll find in Donald Trump’s cabinet thus far. Of The Times’s newly named White House team, all six are white, as is most everyone in the Washington bureau.

Traveling to other departments, Metro has only three Latinos among its 42 reporters, in a city with the second largest Hispanic population in the country. Sports has one Asian man, two Hispanics and no African-Americans among its 21 reporters, yet blacks are plentiful among the teams they cover and the audience they serve. In the Styles section, every writer is white, while American culture is anything but.

In addition, Spayd noted that the area of the Times' newsroom that had the highest diversity was the news assistant desk, which mostly consists of people doing administrative work. The problem with that? News assistants are also the lowest paid employees in the newsroom.

But as Spayd points out, the Times is quick to criticize lack of diversity in other job fields.

"The Times can be relentless in questioning the diversity at other institutions; it has written about the white ranks of the technology sector, public schools, police departments, Oscar nominees, law firms, legislatures, the major leagues and the Ivy League," she wrote. "Fixing its own problems comes less easily."

Still, Spayd found that most in the newsroom are concerned about the lack of diversity at the Times, but not much is getting done about it.

However, the Times' executive editor, Dean Baquet, the highest-ranking editor at the Times that isn't white — and the only non-white person on the paper's masthead — is attempting to rectify the problem, Spayd noted:

I asked Baquet what he believes minorities in the newsroom would say about his senior team’s dedication to diversity.

“I think they’d say we have a problem,” he said. “We’re not diverse enough. But I think they’d say I have a commitment to it and that it’s gotten better in the past year.” He added, “My effort to diversify has been intense and persistent.”

By that, Baquet particularly means the handful of prominent black journalists he’s helped attract or promote, stars like Nikole Hannah-Jones, Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham, all coveted by The Times’s competitors.

According to Spayd, the Times isn't the least-diverse major newspaper, but it definitely isn't the most diverse either, noting that a lack of newsroom diversity is a problem that plagues most newsrooms nationwide.

"When you ask managers about the issue individually, everyone genuinely seems to care. Collectively, however, not much changes," she wrote. "Given The Times’s ambitions across global cultures and languages, it would seem that instead of being a lagger, it would insist on being a leader — and make that an explicit goal. I see no sign that this is happening. Nor do I get the impression from many journalists of color I spoke with that they believe progress is on the horizon."

"It is possible to change this. But The Times will need more humility, introspection and openness than has been its habit in the past," she added.

Spayd took over the job as the Times' public editor earlier this year after working at the Washington Post. She has turned heads several times already with some staunch criticisms of the newspaper, including its horrible 2016 election coverage — that was completely biased toward Hillary Clinton and ignored a large portion of Americans — and its journalists editorializing on Twitter.

Most recent
All Articles