The New York Times is expanding its standards department, the newspaper announced in a Jan. 21 press release.
According to the press release, the Times will “roughly triple” its standards department and “absorb” its Reader Center into the department by having the standards department respond to readers and help explain how the Times works to readers. The New York Times created in 2017 its Reader Center to respond to the public after firing its public editor Liz Spayd and ending the position.
What does that absorption mean? Times spokesperson Danielle Rhoades Ha told iMediaEthis:
“We are sunsetting the Reader Center. It’s important and good work – including the critical work it did in explaining what goes into our journalism – will be redistributed to newsroom departments, including desks themselves. The expanded Standards desk will oversee this work.”
In addition, the Times standards editor Phil Corbett will now also help “advise the Opinion department” in ethical issues of “accuracy, fairness and integrity.”
Vice suggested that the move of having Corbett work with the opinion department is related to the some of the Times‘ recently problematic op-eds. Last month, the Times added an editor’s note after Bret Stephens column the “Secrets of Jewish Genius” was slammed for invoking eugenics and citing a study co-written by a man who “promoted racist views.”
iMediaEthic asked the Times how Corbett will advise the Opinion department, if he will create standards for op-eds, and if the announcement was related to Stephens’ column. We also asked what prompted the decision to expand the Standards department. The Times’ spokesperson said “some of the details are still being worked out.”
“Improving the rigor and quality of our news report is something we’re always at work on,” Rhoades Ha added. “To that end, we’ve made the decision to almost triple the size of our Standards desk, which will now support Opinion as well as the newsroom. Though guided by some different rules, the newsroom and opinion section are grounded in common standards for accuracy, fairness and integrity. “
According to the announcement, “The department will now review significantly more stories before publication; provide greater oversight and consultation in areas beyond traditional articles, including social media, audio, video, TV and newsletters; substantially expand training; and update and expand our stylebook and Ethical Journalism handbook.”
The Times added it plans to hire “up to five new editors.”