Letter from NYT Executive Editor Joe Kahn to staff
Maybe the Times should have hired journalists, instead of activists
Yesterday, The New York Times received a letter delivered by GLAAD, an advocacy group, criticizing coverage in The Times of transgender issues.
It is not unusual for outside groups to critique our coverage or to rally supporters to seek to influence our journalism. In this case, however, members of our staff and contributors to The Times joined the effort. Their protest letter included direct attacks on several of our colleagues, singling them out by name.
Participation in such a campaign is against the letter and spirit of our ethics policy. That policy prohibits our journalists from aligning themselves with advocacy groups and joining protest actions on matters of public policy. We also have a clear policy prohibiting Times journalists from attacking one another’s journalism publicly or signaling their support for such attacks.
Our coverage of transgender issues, including the specific pieces singled out for attack, is important, deeply reported, and sensitively written. The journalists who produced those stories nonetheless have endured months of attacks, harassment and threats. The letter also ignores The Times’ strong commitment to covering all aspects of transgender issues, including the life experience of transgender people and the prejudice and violence against them in our society. A full list of our coverage can be viewed here, and any review shows that the allegations this group is making are demonstrably false.
We realize these are difficult issues that profoundly affect many colleagues personally, including some colleagues who are themselves transgender. We have welcomed and will continue to invite discussion, criticism and robust debate about our coverage. Even when we don’t agree, constructive criticism from colleagues who care, delivered respectfully and through the right channels, strengthens our report.
We do not welcome, and will not tolerate, participation by Times journalists in protests organized by advocacy groups or attacks on colleagues on social media and other public forums.
We live in an era when journalists regularly come under fire for doing solid and essential work. We are committed to protecting and supporting them. Their work distinguishes this institution, and makes us proud.
Joe & Katie»