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The New York Times Guild is being mocked over a request that editors conduct “sensitivity reads” over stories before they are published.
The request comes as part of a broader push by the papers’ unionized journalists to increase ‘diversity’ in hiring and other practices.
The guild acknowledged that journalists met with Times’ editorial management last month in which the said the paper should engage in “a top-to-bottom resetting of priorities to improve the working conditions of our colleagues of color,” Fox News reported.
In addition, the union is pushing for the Times’ workforce to be comprised of 24 percent black employees and more than 50 percent persons of color by 2025, apparently to reflect the demographics of New York City (though it’s a national newspaper).
Our workforce should reflect our home: The Times should set a goal to have its workforce demographics reflect the makeup of New York City—24% Black and over 50% people of color—by 2025. (2/8)
— NYTimesGuild (@NYTimesGuild) July 31, 2020
Also, the guild wants a minimum of those applying for jobs at the paper to be persons of color, while adding more minorities be appointed to the Standards team while also investing in mentorship programs.
One of the guild’s requests drew the most attention, however: The request for “sensitivity reads.”
“Get it right from the beginning: sensitivity reads should happen at the beginning of the publication process, with compensation for those who do them,” the guild said as part of a tweet thread.
Get it right from the beginning: sensitivity reads should happen at the beginning of the publication process, with compensation for those who do them. (6/8)
— NYTimesGuild (@NYTimesGuild) July 31, 2020
The odd request caught the attention of U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), whose op-ed in the paper last month calling for the Trump administration to use the military to help quell rioting triggered Leftist staffers and journalists at the Times.
“Sensitivity reads’ for op-eds? And extra compensation for censoring?” Cotton wrote on Twitter. “New @nytimes motto: All the news that’s fit to print and assessed for sensitivity by well-compensated woke censors.”
"Sensitivity reads" for op-eds? And extra compensation for censoring?
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) July 31, 2020
Others piled on as well to ridicule the guild’s proposal.
“What if we just fire everyone who demands a sensitivity read because it is childish bulls**t,” conservative journalist and pundit Ben Shapiro wrote.
What if we just fire everyone who demands a sensitivity read because it is childish bullshit https://t.co/dkszcbnYlg
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) July 31, 2020
“Imagine swashbuckling journalists of a previous era begging their management for an additional layer of nit-pick editing (‘sensitivity reads’),” noted journalist Michael Tracy.
Imagine swashbuckling journalists of a previous era begging their management for an additional layer of nit-pick editing (“sensitivity reads”) https://t.co/NnNt2cl9Cb
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) July 31, 2020
Can we simply put all these so called journalists on road paving crews now? There has to be a way for them to contribute something of value to GDP since they create zero jobs, zero innovation….
— CashTumbles (@CashTumbles) July 31, 2020
You are literally suggesting news be passed through a filter of censors.
What the hell happened to you?
— Steven Brown (@Capitalistpig21) July 31, 2020
I can pretty much guarantee that any article that passes your team of sensitivity readers won’t be anything most people want to read.
— Avam #IStandWithJKRowling (@avamanonn) August 1, 2020
In June’s op-ed, Cotton — a former U.S. Army infantry officer who did a combat tour apiece in Iraq and Afghanistan — argued that the Trump administration should “send the troops” to cities like Minneapolis and Portland where local and state officials failed to quell riots and looting.
The decision to publish the opinion piece led to the resignation of Times editorial page editor James Bennet.
Following the publication of Cotton’s op-ed, several Times journalists and staffers all tweeted variations of the same message — that running it somehow put “black @nytimes writers, editors and other staff in danger.”
The Harvard-educated lawyer later blasted pushback from the paper’s largely Leftist staff, claiming that his op-ed actually “exceeded” the paper’s editorial standards.
“I find it amazing that in the last 24 hours, the editor of The New York Times and the publisher of The New York Times have both defended their decision to publish this op-ed, but in the face of the ‘woke’ mob, of ‘woke’ kids that are in their newsroom, they tucked tail and they ran,” Cotton told Fox News host Martha MacCallum.
And in mid-July, centrist NY Times editor Bari Weiss also quit, citing a hostile “illiberal environment” at the paper in a scorching letter to publisher Arthur G. Sulzberger.
“[The] lessons that ought to have followed the  election—lessons about the importance of understanding other Americans, the necessity of resisting tribalism, and the centrality of the free exchange of ideas to a democratic society—have not been learned,” she wrote.
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