The public editor wallops the Times!

MONDAY, DECEMBER 19, 2016

We nitpick the public editor:
How many people of different "races" and ethnicities should a newspaper employ?

We don't know the answer to that. Beyond that, as a general matter, we tend to be a bit chary concerning arguments from hypocrisy.

That said, public editor Liz Spayd came out swinging yesterday morning at the New York Times. As she started, she blasted the Times 1) for displaying too little diversity and 2) for exhibiting too much hypocrisy:
SPAYD (12/18/16): 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.

The executive editor, Dean Baquet, is African-American. The other editors on his masthead are white. The staff with the most diversity? The news assistants, who mostly do administrative jobs and get paid the least.

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. Fixing its own problems comes less easily.
Modest diversity, lots of hypocrisy? Plainly, that's what Spayd said.

In these opening grafs, Spayd described the level of diversity in what she later describes as some of the paper's most prestigious postings. A bit later, she offered overall diversity numbers. When she did, we thought something basic was missing:
SPAYD: Overall, newsroom diversity [at the Times] is at 22 percent, up slightly but below newsrooms in most big metropolitan areas. And of those who head departments here, only three are people of color.

[...]

When you ask managers about the issue individually, everyone genuinely seems to care. Collectively, however, not much changes.

They begin by saying this is an industrywide problem, not just a New York Times problem. That is true, unquestionably. On the other hand, it’s also true that data from the American Society of News Editors shows that The Times is less diverse than large papers like The Washington Post (31 percent), The Los Angeles Times (34 percent) and The Miami Herald (41 percent). The Times is more diverse than The Boston Globe (17 percent) and The Philadelphia Inquirer (14 percent).
For what it's worth, Spayd never defined what counts as "newsroom diversity." Most people would likely be able to guess, but such a significant term ought to be defined.

We were annoyed by a larger flaw at this point—by the failure to say what racial/ethnic diversity looks like nationwide.

How diverse must a newsroom be before it "looks like America?" According to the Census Bureau, the national numbers currently stand as shown below.

We mention this because no such data appear in Spayd's piece, and because erroneous data did appear in comments. For the record, it's easy to misunderstand Census data concerning race, since Hispanics also get classified as either black or white. These are the numbers which are relevant to Spayd's discussion:
U.S. population, 2015 estimate, Census Bureau
White: 61.6 percent
Hispanic: 17.6 percent
Black: 13.3 percent
Asian-American: 5.6 percent
American Indian/Native Alaskan: 1.2 percent
Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 0.2 percent
Multiracial: 2.6 percent
Some other race: 0.2 percent
Based on those data, the "diversity" of the general population stands at something like 38 percent. According to Spayd, the Times newsroom checks in at 22 percent.

Should the Times be more diverse? We can't answer that. We were struck by Spayd's second claim—her claim that the Times tends to lecture everyone else, applying standards it doesn't follow itself.

We haven't studied this matter. But that certainly sounds like the New York Times to us!

According to Spayd, the Times is a significant shirker, and a serious hypocrite, on matters of race and ethnicity. For ourselves, we were struck by this fleeting reference to something like social class:
SPAYD: I asked [executive editor Dean] 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.

Their writing styles offer a refreshing break from The Times’s rather institutional voice, which—as one black editor put it to me—is older, white, male, Ivy League and authoritative. “That’s who The Times is at a dinner party,” she said.
We're not sure what that statement about the Times' "rather institutional voice" actually means.

As for the Ivy League reference, Morris prepped at Girard, then graduated from Yale. Hannah-Jones and Wortham are graduates of Notre Dame and UVa, schools which aren't technically Ivy League but are generally viewed as less than plebeian, perhaps as a bit Ivy-like.

Spayd's column appears in the Sunday Review. Yesterday, on that section's front page, Professor Dyson was sounding off about race as opposed to class. As is this professor's wont, he was beating up on Bernie Sanders for some statements the professor didn't quite bother to explain, elucidate or explore.

In the wake of last month's election, arguments have billowed up about the Democratic Party's attention, or lack of attention, to issues of social class, especially concerning the white working class. We'll discuss Dyson's piece tomorrow; we thought it was typically bumptious, weak and unhelpful.

As a general matter, we think the liberal world is a bit weak at this time in the general area of class. On the bright side, our contempt for The Others makes us feel good. But it helped elect Donald J. Trump, and this makes us feel bad.

For herself, Spayd appended this italicized note to the end of her report:
SPAYD: Note: This column explores The Times’s diversity crisis, primarily through race. Future columns will address the struggles to fix this issue, news coverage, the widening gender gap, and the limited geographic, religious and ideological diversity. Stay tuned.
We think that note was written in English. At one point, it seems to make a "category error." It never mentions any possible gain which might result from a newsroom which was more diverse from the standpoint of social class.

Aside from issues of race and ethnicity, is it possible that the Times might suffer from a bit of class myopia? We don't know the answer to that. Tomorrow, on to Professor Dyson!

24 comments:

  1. Yes, the Times is hypocritical. But, I don't think the Times and other organizations should strive have the same distribution of ethnic groups as the counttywide population. First of all, it's impossible to achieve, because talents and interests differ. Should professional basketball teams be required to have only 12% blacks?

    Second, it ignores all the other ways that people differ. For a newspaper or university, political differences may be more important than ethnic differences. Differences in urban versus rural background could be important. The lack of rural staff probably contributed to the widespread media belief that Hillary would surely defeat Trump.

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    Replies
    1. It is hard to see how increasing racial diversity in basketball would improve play but it is easy to see how increasing diversity in journalism would improve reporting.

      If it takes a auota system to achieve greater diversity, I am in favor of it. India is an example of how a complex multicultural society has addressed its entrenched caste-based discrimination using quotas. David uses his basketball analogy because he thinks it would be ridiculous, but that is exactly ehat has been done by a government serious about overcoming discrimination.

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    2. Should the NYTimes' staff diversity reflect the entire nation or just its readers (or intended market). It is likely already much more diverse than its readership.

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    3. Quotas wouldn't make the Times journalism better but it's safe to say it couldn't make it worse.

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  2. Social class isn't important as a focus of diversity. Substantive, important traits are skin color, sexual organs, which sexual organs attract one, and country of origin.

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    Replies
    1. These things are important because our government has decreed that they'er important. Why should skin color be more important than hair color or eye color? None of these things are inherently important. As Justice Roberts said, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

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    2. Can you say tautology?

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    3. Exactly. Our policy of focusing on ethnic differences and, in effect, discriminating on the basis of ethnicity is a racist policy. It won't end ethnic antagonism. Just the reverse.

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    4. David, you're not really engaging in a serious conversation about race when you compare its importance to eye color and hair color. Please, you can engage much more seriously with the issue than that.

      Millions of people were violently oppressed for the vast majority of our country's history over the color of their skin. Does this history make you reconsider calling affirmative action policies "racist?" That kind of escalating language doesn't get us anywhere.

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    5. Anonymous 4:17 -- Yes, our racist past was horrendous, but IMHO it's counterproductive to grovel in it. That's a way to maintain racism rather than put it behind us.

      Look at what actually worked for other groups. The mistreatment of blacks was unique, but there was lots of discrimination against Mormons, Jews, and Asians. These people didn't get affirmative action. They didn't devote their energies to victimhood. They just went ahead and worked all the harder. The result is that they're now excelling.

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    6. Nobody denies a history of racism but what is also true is that the left clings to it. When we moved past it with the election of a black president, the left decided to amp up the race baiting because their party can't survive without creating and perpetuating these divisions. It's destroying the country because the focus is on this non-issue instead of finding cultural commonalities like our constitution and national pride to unite us. Multiculturalism doesn't work and never will but the libs thrive on it because their power depends on it.

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    7. Saying we have a "history" of racism is a convenient way of compartmentalizing and setting aside the both the lingering effects of past racism and racism that still exists today. Saying "Well, most discrimination that exists today is class-based, so we should stop talking about racism because it upsets people" is missing the point in two important ways: a lot of class-based discrimination is allowed because the people perpetrating that discrimination play upon racist impulses, and class-based discrimination affects the historical victims of racism to a greater degree.

      The other factor here is not active discrimination, but the elemental fact of capital, where the compounding effects of capital wealth mean that capital stolen through historical racism provides an ever-increasing wealth gap between the descendants of perpetrators and victims. It's not enough to say "bygones be bygones" and walk away with stolen goods, there must be active restitution. This doesn't mean reparations per se, as it's hard to imagine a reparations plan that doesn't re-establish monstrous paper bag or one-drop tests within a couple generations, but rather advocating for 'class-based' redistribution with race-based arguments. Yes, this opens us up to being called "the real racists", but the alternative is having the victims of historical racism convinced to support the opposition because we were too queasy to tell them the whole truth. You don't bring a knife to a gun fight, and you don't let people write off the first 190 years of plunder just because the past 50 years have been relatively decent.

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    8. Keep clinging to emphasizing skin color differences. It's doing a world of good. And yes, you do forget wrongdoing by people who aren't alive today, to people who aren't alive today. You move on. Unless you want to destroy any cohesion in a society, which is the goal of more than a few leftists. The country will split, and blacks will be the worse for it and owe it all to the doomed multiculturalism of the left, or "progress."

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  3. Speaking of the Times, I noticed that Maureen Dowd hasn't published a column since Nov 26. With Hillary out of politics, could it be that she now has noting to write about?

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  4. "Times tends to lecture everyone else, applying standards it doesn't follow itself. "

    This is stupid.

    ReplyDelete
  5. How to get your Ex Boyfriend back after a breakup, I’m extremely happy that me and my ex-boyfriend are living together again.
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  6. It's surprising that Spayd would deign to work at such a backwater of racism. She could leave and be a part of the solution...

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  7. Not a word get printed that isn't approved by the millionaires and billionaires who own these papers and all the rest of the corporate owned mass media.

    Who cares what the race is of someone regurgitates plutocrat approved thoughts and attitudes.

    ReplyDelete
  8. My ex and I were together for 5 years. We lived together and were engaged. We went on a trip with friends and his family and had a nasty fight and broke up. We both moved out of our home and with our parents. We decided to go no contact for a month and 2 weeks in he started dating a girl and took her on a trip to California ( where we’ve gone the last 2 years on my bday) on my birthday weekend! After battling it out thru emails and a few meetings we finally came to see each other all of last week, i love him so much and i was so desperate to have him back coz i new that girl was not the right person for him so i have to save my relationship and reunite with me ex again so i try all i could to bring him back but all to avail i have be in contact with so many spell caster who only too my money and still nothing good work out of it, i ws so confuse and devastated one day trying to search on facebook, i come across a wonderful testimony of a lady on how a spell caster who she contacted also for love spell help her and bring her husband back to her with-in less day 2 days after the spell i was so fill with joy coz this lady meant my day and i regain my hope back so i directly and desperately email http://happyspelltemple.webs.com/ coz i love my ex so much and i want him back all to my self so with-in 5 min,Dr happy email me back with hope and told me that i have found solution in him that i should worried no more so i did all he ask of me and he gave me assured and guarantee that my ex will come back so i believed and was so gifted all to my surprise after the spell my ex call, come to my working beg and apology for his mistake,and he said sorry for the nasty break up that he was inconsiderate of my feelings nt in tend to hurt me. i can testify with the power love spell of Dr happy me and my ex are happily married now thank you Dr i will for ever be grateful to you and keep sharing your testimony if you need help or love spell fine it difficult to get back with your ex, email happylovespell2@gmail.com or call his mobile number on +2348133873774

    ReplyDelete
  9. How to get your Ex Boyfriend back after a breakup, I’m extremely happy that me and my ex-boyfriend are living together again.
    I' m Mary from England, My boyfriend of a 4yr just broke up with me and am 30 weeks pregnant.I have cried my self to sleep most of the nights and don’t seem to concentrate during lectures sometimes I stay awake almost all night thinking about him and start to cry all over again.Because of this I end up not having energy for my next day’s classes ,my attendance has dropped and am always in uni and on time. Generally he is a very nice guy ,he ended it because he said we were arguing a lot and not getting along.He is right we’ve been arguing during the pregnancy a lot .After the break up I kept ringing him and telling him I will change.I am in love with this guy and he is the best guy I have ever been with.I’m still hurt and in disbelief when he said he didn’t have any romantic feelings towards me anymore that hurt me faster than a lethal syringe.He texts me now and then mainly to check up on how am doing with the pregnancy,he is supportive with it but it’s not fair on me, him texting me as I just want to grieve the pain and not have any stress due to the pregnancy.i was really upset and i needed help, so i searched for help online and I came across a website that suggested that Dr Unity can help solve marital problems, restore broken relationships and so on. So, I felt I should give him a try. I contacted him and he told me what to do and i did it then he did a spell for me. 28 hours later, my bf came to me and apologized for the wrongs he did and promise never to do it again. Ever since then, everything has returned back to normal. I and my bf are living together happily again.. All thanks to Dr Unity. If you have any problem contact Dr.Unity now and i guarantee you that he will help you. Here’s his contact. Email him at: Unityspelltemple@gmail.com ,
    you can also call him or add him on Whats-app: +2348071622464 ,
    His website: http://unityspelltemple.yolasite.com .

    ReplyDelete
  10. My ex and I were together for 5 years. We lived together and were engaged. We went on a trip with friends and his family and had a nasty fight and broke up. We both moved out of our home and with our parents. We decided to go no contact for a month and 2 weeks in he started dating a girl and took her on a trip to California ( where we’ve gone the last 2 years on my bday) on my birthday weekend! After battling it out thru emails and a few meetings we finally came to see each other all of last week, i love him so much and i was so desperate to have him back coz i new that girl was not the right person for him so i have to save my relationship and reunite with me ex again so i try all i could to bring him back but all to avail i have be in contact with so many spell caster who only too my money and still nothing good work out of it, i ws so confuse and devastated one day trying to search on facebook, i come across a wonderful testimony of a lady on how a spell caster who she contacted also for love spell help her and bring her husband back to her with-in less day 2 days after the spell i was so fill with joy coz this lady meant my day and i regain my hope back so i directly and desperately email http://happyspelltemple.webs.com/ coz i love my ex so much and i want him back all to my self so with-in 5 min,Dr happy email me back with hope and told me that i have found solution in him that i should worried no more so i did all he ask of me and he gave me assured and guarantee that my ex will come back so i believed and was so gifted all to my surprise after the spell my ex call, come to my working beg and apology for his mistake,and he said sorry for the nasty break up that he was inconsiderate of my feelings nt in tend to hurt me. i can testify with the power love spell of Dr happy me and my ex are happily married now thank you Dr i will for ever be grateful to you and keep sharing your testimony if you need help or love spell fine it difficult to get back with your ex, email happylovespell2@gmail.com or call his mobile number on +2348133873774

    ReplyDelete
  11. After being in relationship with Wilson for seven years,he broke up with me, I did everything possible to bring him back but all was in vain, I wanted him back so much because of the love I have for him, I begged him with everything, I made promises but he refused. I explained my problem to someone online and she suggested that I should contact a spell caster that could help me cast a spell to bring him back but I am the type that don't believed in spell, I had no choice than to try it, I meant a spell caster called Dr Zuma zuk and I email him, and he told me there was no problem that everything will be okay before three days, that my ex will return to me before three days, he cast the spell and surprisingly in the second day, it was around 4pm. My ex called me, I was so surprised, I answered the call and all he said was that he was so sorry for everything that happened, that he wanted me to return to him, that he loves me so much. I was so happy and went to him, that was how we started living together happily again. Since then, I have made promise that anybody I know that have a relationship problem, I would be of help to such person by referring him or her to the only real and powerful spell caster who helped me with my own problem and who is different from all the fake ones out there. Anybody could need the help of the spell caster, his email: spiritualherbalisthealing@gmail.com or call him +2349055637784 you can email him if you need his assistance in your relationship or anything. CONTACT HIM NOW FOR SOLUTION TO ALL YOUR PROBLEMS'

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete