New York Times Management Denies Union’s Accusations of a ‘Racially Targeted Witch Hunt’ Over Oct. 7 Story Leak

The labor group representing NYT journalists called on the paper to “cease” the internal investigation into who shared information on a shelved episode of “The Daily”

Protesters outside of the New York Times offices, guarded by police, as one protesters waves a Palestinian flag.
Protests outside the New York Times offices on Dec. 18, 2023. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Management at the New York Times on Saturday denied allegations from the union representing Times journalists that accused the paper of racial targeting in its internal investigation over who leaked information about an unreleased episode of “The Daily” podcast, reported on by The Intercept earlier this week. The paper has been seeking information on who leaked information about the episode, which reportedly covered Hamas’ use of sexual violence in its Oct. 7 attacks on Israel.

The NewsGuild of New York had fired back at the internal investigation Friday and said that staff had been “targeted for their national origin, ethnicity and race,” asserting that some who’d raised questions about the paper’s reporting were singled out for “particularly hostile questioning.” The paper’s management denied those charges.

“The NewsGuild’s claim that we targeted people based on their associations or ethnicity is preposterous,” New York Times spokesperson Danielle Rhoades Ha said in a statement to TheWrap on Saturday. “While we aren’t going to comment on internal matters, as we’ve said before, the work of our newsroom requires trust and collaboration, and we expect all of our colleagues to adhere to these values.”

The paper has also continued to defend its original reporting, while noting that one of the freelance journalists who reported on the sexual violence on Oct. 7 had committed “unacceptable violations” in liking posts on X that included language such as stating that Israel turn Gaza “into a slaughterhouse.” That journalist, Anat Schwartz, said that it was an “inadvertent ‘like’” and apologized for it.

The Guild wrote on X Friday that it “intends to vigorously defend our members and their rights, and ensure that all our members are protected in a workplace free from harassment and racial profiling” and shared a story from the Washington Post about what they’d told their members and asked for from Times management.

“We demand that The Times cease what has become a destructive and racially targeted witch hunt,” Guild president Susan DeCarava wrote in a letter to Times publisher/chairperson A.G. Sulzberger.

The Guild alleged in a statement from union leaders that Times staff were specifically questioned about involvement in an affinity group for those of Middle Eastern and North African heritage. That included management ordering staff “to hand over the names of all the … active members, and demanded copies of private text-message conversations between colleagues about their shared workplace concerns.”

In a message to Times staff sent Saturday afternoon, the paper’s senior management accused the union of “making a series of false allegations” about the Times’ internal investigation and responded with its own description of the investigation and how it’s being conducted.

“We are currently undertaking an inquiry to determine how outside media got access to information in confidential planning documents and draft scripts The Daily team was using in preparing an episode,” the memo to staff from Times executive editor Joseph Kahn and managing editors Marc Lacey and Carolyn Ryan reads.

“While a few people interviewed as part of the inquiry happen to be members of the company’s Middle Eastern/North African affinity group and referred to their communications with other members of that group during interviews, most of those who have been interviewed are not members of that group,” the memo stated.

As the paper’s management describes it in that memo, the inquiry seeks “to ensure the integrity of our editorial processes at The Daily after outside media described draft scripts and notes for an episode. The work involved The Daily team’s reporting and internal debate on an earlier story we published on sexual violence during the Hamas attack on Israel.”

“We undertook the inquiry for a simple reason,” the memo continued. “Using access to our publishing systems to reveal pre-publication details of our journalism to people outside The Times crosses a clear red line. It threatens the culture of trust essential to the intensive editing process in every part of the newsroom.”

Management called out the leak as unprecedented in the recent history of the Times.

“In all our years working here, we have never before been made aware of a colleague abusing privileges within our systems to share pre-publication materials with anyone outside The Times,” the memo states. “If breaches of that kind were tolerated as just another form of expressing concerns about a story, it could undermine the vigorous exchange of ideas essential to the quality of our report and chill the discussion and feedback we all value.”

More than 20 Times staff members were questioned in the investigation thus far, according to the Guild.

Management acknowledged in the memo that the sexual violence story “has generated a great deal of internal and external discussion,” saying that they owe it to staff and readers to “take those concerns seriously.” But they also said their continued reporting on the Oct. 7 massacre shows the details in that story to be accurate.

“In this case, our international team has continued to report deeply on the matter, and returned repeatedly to original references and sources in the story,” the memo says. “Our reporting continues to show that the details included in that story and the broader pattern of sexual violence connected with the assault are accurate.”


One response to “New York Times Management Denies Union’s Accusations of a ‘Racially Targeted Witch Hunt’ Over Oct. 7 Story Leak”

  1. Nexus Avatar

    A hive of Woke scum and villainy, eating themselves, such bliss.

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