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Two New York Times journalists to leave amid criticism of behavior

Two New York Times journalists to leave amid criticism of behavior
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Two New York Times journalists who were involved in high-profile work for the newspaper resigned over scrutiny regarding their past behavior. 

Donald McNeil, a science reporter who covered the coronavirus pandemic, and Andy Mills, an audio journalist who helped create “The Daily” podcast and also produced and co-hosted “Caliphate,” a 2018 podcast that was thrust into the spotlight after significant errors were found.

McNeil’s resignation comes after allegations surfaced that he made inappropriate comments, including a racial slur, when he was a guide on a Times-sponsored student trip to Peru in 2019.

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Dean Baquet, the Times’s executive editor, and Joe Kahn, the managing editor, wrote in a memo that his departure is “the right next step.”

“We do not tolerate racist language regardless of intent,” they wrote. “We are committed to building a news report and company that reflect our core values of integrity and respect, and will work with urgency to create clearer guidelines and enforcement about conduct in the workplace, including red-line issues on racist language.”

In an apology to the company, McNeil said he used the slur while talking with a student about the suspension of a classmate who had said the word.

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“I should not have done that,” he wrote. “Originally, I thought the context in which I used this ugly word could be defended. I now realize that it cannot. It is deeply offensive and hurtful.

“For offending my colleagues — and for anything I’ve done to hurt The Times, which is an institution I love and whose mission I believe in and try to serve — I am sorry. I let you all down," he added.

The ouster of Mills comes after The Times was forced to append “Caliphate,” a podcast on ISIS, with an editor’s note saying the project relied too much on a source whose account ended up being false or exaggerated. Mills was also accused of sexual harassment in 2018, including unwanted touching. 

“Today I’m resigning from The New York Times. Those are not words I ever wanted to write,” Mills said on his website. “While I remain proud of our team and what we were able to accomplish with Caliphate, getting any aspect of any story wrong, by any degree, is a journalist’s worst nightmare.

“Like all human beings, I have made mistakes that I wish I could take back. Nine years ago, when I first moved to New York City, I regularly attended monthly public radio meet up parties where I looked for love and eventually earned a reputation as a flirt," he continued, in response to the harassment claims. "Eight years ago during a team meeting, I gave a colleague a back rub. Seven years ago I poured a drink on a coworker’s head at a drunken bar party. I look back at those actions with extraordinary regret and embarrassment.

“I feel it is in the best interest of both myself and my team that I leave the company at this time.”