NYTimes Admits 'Flawed' Gay Talese Story - iMediaEthics

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New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet called the newspaper’s article about the controversy surrounding Gay Talese “flawed.”

Not because it wasn’t fair to Talese. Instead, it was the opposite. It was unfair to a Times staffer.

Talese earned criticism after saying over the weekend he couldn’t think of many women writers who had inspired him. The April 6 Times article “Gay Talese Goes Through the Twitter Wringer,” by Sridhar Pappu, allowed Talese to explain what he meant by his comments.

The article noted that the Times’ Nikole Hannah-Jones had tweeted from the conference about Talese: “it is inevitable: your icons will *always* disappoint you.” To that, Talese complained to the Times that Hannah-Jones wanted a selfie after the comments. He also asked why she didn’t walk out when he made the controversial comment, calling her “so duplicitous as to write me off with a quote.”

The Times article also pointed to Hannah-Jones comments to Rewire, where she said that Talese asked her how she got her job at the New York Times Magazine and then if she was going to get a manicure.

In an April 7 press statement, Baquet said that Times reporter Hannah-Jones and he weren’t “given a chance to respond” to Talese’s quote calling her “duplicitous.” Calling her “one of the most accomplished and prominent journalists of her generation,” Baquet said the “story was flawed and Nikole was treated unfairly.”

Baquet called for more diversity at the Times to aid in covering stories such as this. “This incident is larger than the exchange between her and Gay Talese,” he wrote. “Too often, we are clumsy in handling issues of race and gender and this story was another unfortunate example. We have made strides in our coverage and culture, but the best solution is to continue building a more diverse, inclusive newsroom.”

For her part, Times public editor Margaret Sullivan argued the article on Talese “wasn’t ready for prime time” and “needed a few changes from Times editors” including fixing its “rather one-sided sympathy” for Talese and the “unanswered swipe” at Hannah-Jones.

Sullivan pointed out that the Times article said that Hannah-Jones declined to comment for the Talese story and explained that according to an e-mail from the Times writer to Hannah-Jones, the writer didn’t explicitly state what he wanted to ask her when she declined to comment.

Pappu referred iMediaEthics to the Times for comment.

iMediaEthics has written to Hannah-Jones for comment.

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NYTimes Admits ‘Flawed’ Gay Talese Story

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