Liz Spayd

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  • NY Times Public Editor Apologizes For Discordant Coverage Of Trump's Immigration Speech

    Blog ››› ››› NINA MAST

    The New York Times' public editor apologized for the heavily edited story on Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s trip to Mexico and immigration speech, which misleadingly portrayed Trump as “remak[ing] his image” on immigration when in reality Trump doubled down on his anti-immigrant policies.  

    Following Trump’s widely panned August 31 speech on immigration, The New York Times’ Patrick Healy wrote a front page article which praised Trump’s “audacious attempt ... to remake his image on the divisive issue of immigration,” drawing intense criticism from reporters who said that its author had “apparently watched a completely different immigration speech.”

    Subsequently, substantial edits were made to the article without acknowledgment of the changes, prompting public editor Liz Spayd to tweet that she was “looking for answers this morning on the unexplained redo.”

    In her explanation on the debacle, Spayd wrote that “For many readers, the story looked like a significant misportrayal of events” due to the fast-paced nature of the changing events. Spayd conceded that “other major news sites managed to hit the mark” and noted that “mistakes can have a genuine impact” on the newspaper's reputation. From the September 1 article:

    What happened? Why did the first version seem so off and why wasn’t The Times more transparent about the changes?

    I asked Carolyn Ryan, The Times’s political editor, for an explanation. “Trump acted jarringly differently in Phoenix than he did in Mexico, and we scrambled to reflect that, without obscuring the fact that he was backing away from his policy to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants,” she said. “I think readers were eager to see the fiery language and belligerent tone in Phoenix reflected quickly in the story, especially if they had just watched his appearance, and I understand that.”

    What that boils down to is: We were moving as fast as we could and the story changed on us.

    The flaw in hanging this simply on tight deadlines and fast-changing facts is that many other major news sites managed to hit the mark.


    All of this may sound like tedious newsroom mechanics, but mistakes can have a genuine impact on The Times’s reputation among readers. In a climate where sinister motives are attached to every word and headline The Times produces, looking squarely at such episodes is a step worth taking.

  • A simple question for the Washington Post

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    For months, I've been trying to get key Washington Post journalists to answer a basic question: Does the Post think it is sufficient to occasionally debunk falsehoods, or does the paper believe it should do so every time it prints those falsehoods?

    It's a simple question, but nobody seems to want to answer it. I've submitted that question to countless "Live Q&A" sessions hosted by Post media critic Howard Kurtz, executive editor Marcus Brauchli, and managing editors Raju Narisetti and Liz Spayd. But none of them have ever answered the question. Kurtz's refusal to do so is particularly glaring, as he ducked the question once by demanding an example of the Post failing to correct a falsehood -- and has subsequently ignored questions that contain such an example. (Here's some background.)

    Narisetti is conducting a Q&A session at 1 PM today, so I'm trying yet again to get an answer. Here's the question I submitted earlier this morning:

    This is roughly the 20th time I have submitted a variation on this question to Live Q&As held by you, Liz Spayd, Marcus Brauchli, and Howard Kurtz, so I hope you'll answer it: Does the Washington Post think it is sufficient to debunk false claims once, or does the Post think it should debunk false claims every time it prints them?

    Mr. Kurtz has praised the Post's handling of the "Death Panels" lie -- but the Post has printed numerous articles that refer to "death panels" without making clear that the charge is false. (E.g.:

    So, again: Do you think it is sufficient to debunk a false claim once, or should the Post do so every time it prints that claim?

    If you'd like to submit your own version of this question, you can do so here.

    UPDATE: Narisetti just wrapped up, and didn't see fit to answer my question, though he did find time to say the Post should have covered the bogus NBPP story sooner, to comment on the frequency of Live Q&A sessions, and to answer a subscriber's question about an undelivered newspaper.

    I honestly have no idea why Posties would be so afraid of answering this simple little question.