NY Times Promises Fair Coverage

The New York Times publisher and executive editor sent an unusual email to subscribers about election coverage. Poynter reports that this email and another to employees were in response to criticism of left-leaning coverage of the campaign.

NYT re Election Coverage

The message is both reflective and forward-looking, questioning an unprecedented election and assuring readers fair coverage of President Trump in the future. The publisher and editor promise to stay true to the newspaper's core mission, and they thank loyal customers.  

Arthur Sulzberger is the newest member of the family to be named publisher of The Times. A fifth-generation publisher, Sulzberger is a descendant of  Adolph S. Ochs, who bought the paper in 1896.

The email comes after Sulzberger sent an internal memo to staff:

Dear Colleagues,

As we close one of the most momentous weeks in our nation's recent history, let's pause for a moment on those famous instructions that Adolph S. Ochs left for us: to cover the news without fear or favor.

As Donald Trump begins preparing for his new administration, those words have rarely felt more important.

The Times is certainly not afraid - our investigative report has demonstrated our courage many times over. That fearless, hard-fought journalism will always stand as the backbone of The Times, no matter the President.

But we also approach the incoming Trump administration without bias. We will cover his policies and his agenda fairly. We will bring expert analysis and thoughtful commentary to the changes we see in government, and to their ramifications on the ground.

We will look within and beyond Washington to explore the roots of the anger that has roiled red and blue America. If many Americans no longer seem to understand each other, let's make it our job to interpret and explain.

Our predecessors founded our singular newspaper for just this moment - to serve as a watchdog to the powerful; and to hold mighty institutions accountable, without fear or favor. We are more than ready to fulfill that promise.

Together, we have built the world's best digital newsroom and it, too, was made for just this moment. We will chronicle the new administration with a lightning-fast report that features stories told in every medium and on every platform.

Here is what we have all dedicated our careers to: Going after the biggest stories in the world, and telling them as ambitiously as possible.

Get some rest this weekend. We have lots to do.


Discussion Starters:

  • You might read this as either an admission or a defense. What's your view? 
  • What are the communication objectives of both emails? You might consider the newspaper business today. To what extent do you think they meet those objectives? Overall, are the messages effective?
  • Assess the writing style against principles in Chapter 5. Pay particular attention to word choice and sentence structure.