A week ago today, a preview of a New York Times front page set off a flurry of outrage on social media over the headline “Trump Urges Unity vs. Racism.” The Times changed it to “Assailing Hate But Not Guns.”
There was so much criticism of the Times last week — even from presidential candidates — that executive editor Dean Baquet publicly acknowledged it was “a bad headline.”
Today the Daily Beast reports on a Times staff meeting in which the headline was a big topic of discussion:
“He’s sick. He feels terrible,” Baquet said of the person who wrote the offending headline.
The top editor reiterated that the headline was a mistake—“It was a fucking mess,” he told the staff—but joined other newsroom leaders in cautioning staff not to overreact to Twitter comments about the paper’s editorial decisions.
Baquet said the paper shouldn’t allow itself to be edited by Twitter outrage. When it was his turn to speak, Sulzberger cited a statistic claiming that only a small number of people tweeting about Times stories actually clicked on them, suggesting many readers judge the stories before actually reading them.
They addressed how to better address race and the president’s words, with Baquet reportedly saying that “the Times‘ standards editor is working on producing a written standard for when the paper should use the word ‘racist.'”
Baquet told CJR last week he knows people “may think newsrooms like the New York Times and the Washington Post are supposed to be Donald Trump’s adversaries,” but he doesn’t believe “our role is to be the leaders of the opposition party.”
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