The New York Times has established itself in the modern day as the rational mouthpiece of liberal opinion. As is explained on the NYT website, “the core purpose of The New York Times is to enhance society by creating, collecting and distributing high-quality news and information.” Furthermore, the NYT adds that they produce this high-quality content to both, fulfill the public trust and their customers’ expectations.
In short, they break down their ethics policy into three categories: fairness, integrity, and truth. In concept, as said by the founder of NYT Adolph Ochs, the goal of the NYT is to cover the news without “fear or favor.”
With such steadfast cornerstones of journalistic integrity and unbiased reporting, how can we explain the public outrage in the wake of the election results; claims that the NYT “liberal washed” the election to their readers? Are these allegations based on truth?
Gary Taustine of Manhattan writes: “The NY Times is alienating its independent and open-minded readers, and in doing so, limiting the reach of their message and its possible influence.”
One NYT reader from California who asked not to be named in her letter to the Times believes that “Times reporters and editors are trying to sway public opinion toward their own beliefs.” She writes: “I never thought I’d see the day when I, as a liberal, would start getting so frustrated with the one-sided reporting that I would start hopping over to the Fox News web page to read an article and get the rest of the story that the NYT refused to publish.” (NYT)
In a quite climatic response, an Arizona reader writes to NYT: “You’ve lost a subscriber because of your relentless bias against Trump — and I’m not even a Republican.”
And these letters are from liberals!
In a piece, she released this summer the Public Editor of the Times, Liz Spayd, explains that the root of the problem is that the assumption that readers really know the difference between opinion pieces and news may be false.
She nods to a few allocations against the Times’ unbiased point of view: the Hilary ad on the homepage of the website this fall and the front page gun control editorial in print last December. If a new source tells the news straight but is candid about the standpoint of the ownership is that unethical? Executive editor, Dan Baquet, says no.
He says, “I want us to be perceived as fair and honest to the world, not just a segment of it. It’s a really difficult goal.”
Ultimately the official response of the NYT to these allegations is that fractured journalism is a product of fractured society. With such a divided nation there will inevitably be news sources that fall to one side or another.
Two years ago a Pew Research survey found that liberals are flocking to The Times. 65 percent of NYT readers held political values that were left of center. The leadership of the Times states that despite this majority it would be inconceivable for them to only cater to this one side, it would strongly oppose the founding ethical pillars of the publication.
Unfortunately, theory and practice seldom align.