The New York Times‘ executive editor Dean Baquet admitted the newspaper’s initial front-page headline for a story about Pres. Trump’s reaction to the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio was deeply flawed.
Baquet told the Daily Beast by text message, “It was written on deadline and when it was passed along for approval we all saw it was a bad headline and changed it pretty quickly.”
The original headline was “Trump Urges Unity vs. Racism.” It was changed to “Assailing Hate but Not Guns” for the second edition. The headlines were over three articles related to the shootings.
Times spokesperson Danielle Rhoades Ha told iMediaEthics, “The headline only ran in the first print edition, which does go to some subscribers. (It did not appear online.)” She pointed iMediaEthics to its Reader Center article about the headline. The Reader Center was created to replace the newspaper’s independent public editor position, which the Times ended in 2017.
The Reader Center article explained that editors changed the headline because it “did not contextualize Mr.Trump’s message.”
Times deputy managing editor Matt Purdy is quoted as defending the newspaper’s coverage of Trump, mass shootings and race, but he admitted, “We should have done better” with the headline. He pointed to space and time constraints as reasons for the first headline. Purdy said, in part:
“When a group of top editors received an email with the first edition of the front page last night, we saw the headline, realized that it was not a good one and decided to change it. It’s not uncommon for our masthead editors to adjust headlines as we go.
“As this conversation was happening among Times editors, readers began discussing the initial headline on Twitter. They rightly pointed out that the initial headline didn’t reflect the story accurately.”
Politico noted that Democratic presidential hopefuls Beto O’Rourke, Kirsten Gillibrand and Cory Booker slammed the Times‘ initial headline.