Ethical reporting

There’s a provision in the New York Times ethics guidelines that limits what a news-side reporter may say during a television interview. “Generally a staff member should not say anything on radio, television or the Internet that could not appear under his or her byline in The Times,” note the guidelines.

Donald G. McNeil Jr. is a science and health reporter at the New York Times. He’s been analyzing the coronavirus story ever since the pandemic started roaring. His latest stop on that tour was an interview with Christiane Amanpour of CNN, where, well, let’s just say that McNeil said things that could not appear under his Times byline ….

One of the pleasures of New York Times reporter calls Pence a ‘sycophant.’ The newspaper says he ‘went too far.’ is Eric Wemple re-writing McNeil’s outburst to fit the New York Times style:

  1. “We blew it” becomes “As coronavirus wended its way around the world, the Trump administration missed several critical opportunities to blunt its impact in America, according to interviews with 56 experts and current and former administration officials.”
  2. Had McNeil attempted to write that the CDC was “incompetently led,” his editors would have inserted: “Decisions reached by Dr. Redfield over several weeks in January and February have drawn criticism from public health experts, who point to a slow-footed response that resulted in unnecessary deaths across the country.”
  3. Had McNeil attempted to write that Pence is a “sycophant,” his editors would have inserted: “The White House swapped Azar for Pence, a leader more attuned to the president’s preferences and sensibilities, not to mention his taste for official praise.”
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