NYT editors: Paper ‘will not tolerate’ its journalists protesting coverage of transgender people
The top editor of The New York Times warned the newspaper’s journalists who have voiced displeasure with the outlet’s coverage of transgender people and issues that such public criticism will “not be tolerated.”
In a memo to staff on Thursday obtained by The Hill, executive editor Joe Kahn said the Times “received a letter delivered by GLAAD, an advocacy group, criticizing coverage in The Times of transgender issues.”
“It is not unusual for outside groups to critique our coverage or to rally supporters to seek to influence our journalism. In this case, however, members of our staff and contributors to The Times joined the effort. Their protest letter included direct attacks on several of our colleagues, singling them out by name,” Kahn wrote. “Participation in such a campaign is against the letter and spirit of our ethics policy. That policy prohibits our journalists from aligning themselves with advocacy groups and joining protest actions on matters of public policy. We also have a clear policy prohibiting Times journalists from attacking one another’s journalism publicly or signaling their support for such attacks.”
More than 200 New York Times contributors past and present earlier this week penned an open letter to the newspaper, criticizing its coverage of transgender issues, saying it has been cited to justify criminalizing gender-affirming health care by lawmakers.
The letter specifically takes issue with a Times story from last June that uses the term “patient zero” to refer to a transgender young person seeking gender-affirming care, which the signatories say is “a phrase that vilifies transness as a disease to be feared.”
“The newspaper’s editorial guidelines demand that reporters ‘preserve a professional detachment, free of any whiff of bias’ when cultivating their sources, remaining ‘sensitive that personal relationships with news sources can erode into favoritism, in fact or appearance,’” the letter, whose signatories included journalists from other publications, including The Hill, reads. “Yet the Times has in recent years treated gender diversity with an eerily familiar mix of pseudoscience and euphemistic, charged language, while publishing reporting on trans children that omits relevant information about its sources.”
Kahn defended the newspaper’s coverage of transgender issues and people in his note on Thursday.
“Our coverage of transgender issues, including the specific pieces singled out for attack, is important, deeply reported, and sensitively written,” he said. “We do not welcome, and will not tolerate, participation by Times journalists in protests organized by advocacy groups or attacks on colleagues on social media and other public forums.”
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