Two journalists who made one of the most important covers of the American newspaper The New York Times left the newspaper after being criticized for their behavior.
Newspaper editor Dean Baquet and editor Joe Kahn sent a statement to the team regarding the departure of Donald G. McNeil Jr., a science reporter covering the coronavirus pandemic, and Andy Mills, an audio journalist who helped create the famous podcast “The Daily” and was the producer and co-host of “Califado”, a 2018 podcast which later revealed contained serious errors.
McNeil, a reporter who had worked for the newspaper for 46 years and reported in 60 countries, took part in one of the New York Times sponsored student trips in 2019. On the trip to Peru, McNeil took part in one of the 2019 New York Times sponsored trips. acted as an expert guide for students. At least six students and their parents complained about the racist or sexist comments he made during the trip, including using a derogatory word for black people.
In Friday’s team note (5), Baquet and Kahn said McNeil “had made excellent reports for four decades” but said “it was the right step to take.”
The note was a turnaround from the previous week’s statement, in which Baquet informed the newsroom that he had given McNeil “one more chance.”
In that memo, Baquet said he carried out an investigation at the time and came to the conclusion that although the reporter used offensive expressions, he did not have bad intentions.
Days after Baquet sent the statement defending his decision to give McNeil a chance, a group of newspaper employees sent a letter to New York Times editor AG Sulzberger criticizing the attitude towards the reporter. “Despite The Times’ apparent commitment to diversity and inclusion, we have given a leading platform – coverage of a critical topic, a pandemic that disproportionately affects non-whites – to someone who used offensive and unacceptable language by the standards of the essay. “
Sulzberger, Baquet and Meredith Kopit Levien, the president of The New York Times Company, responded to the group in a letter on Wednesday (3). “We appreciate your contribution. We endorse the spirit that led to this contribution and broadly agree with the message. “
The newspaper was questioned for, according to critics, resisting punishing the newspaper’s most famous and influential journalists when they make serious mistakes.
In a statement to The Times staff on Friday, McNeil said he used the word derogatory in a conversation with a student about the suspension of a classmate who used the term.
“I shouldn’t have done this,” he said. “At first I thought it was defensible to use the term because of the context. Afterwards, I realized that it was not defensible. The term is deeply offensive and harmful. “
In conclusion, McNeil said: “Sorry for offending my colleagues and for everything I have done that has hurt The Times, an institution that I love and believe in mission. I disappointed everyone.
Audio journalist Mills’ departure was announced nearly two months after an editor’s note was published about the errors of the “Califado” podcast. The memo said the Islamic State series gave credence to false or exaggerated reports about one of its characters.
The series topped Apple’s podcast rankings in 2018 and won numerous awards, but the Times said it contained counting errors.
With 12 chapters, the series was directed by Rukmini Callimachi, a journalist for the newspaper who often worked in conflict zones, trying to show how the Islamic State works. But the series paid tribute to Shehroze Chaudhry, who exaggerated and invented participation in ISIS executions.
In an interview with Michael Barbaro, presenter of the podcast “The Daily”, Baquet attributed the errors of the series to “institutional failure”. The note and the interview came after a months-long investigation into the Caliphate’s findings.
After the note, people who had worked with Mills in their previous jobs on the New York radio station WNYC’s “Radiolab” program, posted complaints on Twitter about their behavior with women by writing the program and socializing. .
In February 2018, two months before the release of “Califado,” a New York magazine article about radio sexual harassment reported Mills had been the subject of complaints.
In the article, women claimed he asked them out, massaged his back unsolicited and threw beer on the head of a colleague. He also reportedly said that one of the women was hired solely for her gender.
At the time, he received a warning from the human resources sector, which kept him at work.
In a Friday article, Mills said his departure from the New York Times was not due to problems with the “caliphate” and that the newspaper’s chief “didn’t blame us” for the mistakes.
After the publication of Baquet’s editor’s note on the podcast, “an online narrative emerged: I was not punished because of male privilege.” According to him, this accusation gave some people the opportunity to rekindle his past behavior.
He said he told The Times about his mistakes on hiring and received good reviews for his work in the newspaper. Mills also said he was promoted in December. But in the weeks following the revelation of the “caliphate” errors, “the accusations on Twitter got to the point where my mistakes and mistakes were replaced with gigantic exaggerations and baseless accusations.”
Mills concluded by saying that “it is better for me and my team that I leave the company now. I do this with sadness and regret.