New York Times reader Liz Franklin from Austin, Texas, criticized the Times for publishing a post on its “Bucks” blog in which “the writer gives excuses why it’s acceptable to lie about your student status in order to receive a discount, and tells people how to do it.”
According to Franklin, the blogpost didn’t advise readers how to make “the most of your money,” as the blog’s subtitle states. Rather, the “post is about getting undeserved discounts…That’s equivalent to stealing.”
In a recent public editor column, the New York Times’ Arthur Brisbane published a selection of readers’ comments on Times reporting, including Franklin’s criticism.
In response, Times deputy business editor Kevin McKenna explained the post was “one that we quickly wished we could do over.”
“We don’t want our personal-finance coverage ever to suggest or endorse anything illegal or unethical — quite the contrary. But the post as initially published, alas, lent itself to that interpretation.”
Further, McKenna commented “We’re not in the practice of unpublishing things, so in this case, once the post was up, we thought it should remain in some form so reader reaction could be aired. But if we had the whole thing to do again, we wouldn’t have published it.”
The Jan. 19 blog post by Jennifer Saranow Schultz has been “updated: to remove methods of misrepresentation (which we don’t recommend).”
In the comments section, more than forty readers weighed in criticizing the story. One reader, “zzDoug” questioned why the Times featured the advice:
“I would expect this from some blog, or maybe the Anarchist’s cookbook. But the New York Times?”
Another reader, “k” from New York, wrote
“Awesome. ‘I personally could never lie to get a student discount’ — but you can offer NYT readers some rationalizations for why they might consider lying, and just how they can benefit! Student discounts today, CDOs tomorrow. Please. What terrible judgement.”
And reader “Sam” noted,
“I can’t believe that someone writing for the NY Times is actually encouraging such fraudulent behavior from its readers.
“If you are not a student you are not entitled to student discounts anymore, sorry. It doesn’t matter whether you think that the discount is more useful now than it would have been when you were a student, or whether you are still paying off your loans. Using a fake student ID to get a cheaper entry to say the museum is not all that different than sneaking in through a window to avoid paying.”
Reader “AM” commented, (sarcastically, we hope): “Waiting for another ‘Making the Most of Your Money’ column to explain the top techniques for shoplifting.”