NYT public editor hits legacy outlets in final article

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In her final column for The New York Times on Friday, public editor Liz Spayd questioned the future of legacy newspapers like The Times and The Washington Post.

Spayd, who is leaving her post after the newspaper decided to eliminate her position, pondered the objectivity of journalists in the era of President Trump.

“I don’t worry that The Times, or The Washington Post or others with the most resources will fail to pursue ripe investigative targets,” Spayd wrote.

“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?”

{mosads}The Times in a memo earlier this week detailed its decision to eradicate the public editor position, which sought to provide internal accountability and oversight. 

“The responsibility of the public editor — to serve as the reader’s representative — has outgrown that one office,” publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. said in the memo. 

“Our business requires that we must all seek to hold ourselves accountable to our readers. When our audience has questions or concerns, whether about current events or our coverage decisions, we must answer them ourselves,” the memo continues.”

Spayd, who received a wide array of criticism during her tenure as public editor the last year, in her last column also probed the decision to eliminate the position. 

“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,” Spayd said.

“I leave this job plenty aware that I have opinions — especially about partisan journalism — that don’t always go over well with some of the media critics in New York and Washington. I’m not prone to worry much about stepping in line with conventional thinking.”

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