New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet admitted to the newspaper’s staff Monday that the headline proclaiming President Donald Trump urged “Unity Against Racism” was a “f-ing mess,” but still told the workers that they should not overreact to Twitter outrage over the newspaper’s editorial choices.
The meeting lasted for more than an hour, reports The Daily Beast, during which leadership talked with staff members about criticism the newspaper has gotten over its coverage of politics, race, and the president.
The headline, appearing in an early edition of the newspaper, came under fire on Twitter because critics said it painted the president’s speech after shootings in El Paso and Dayton as a call for national unity. The paper ended up changing the headline following the complaints, from “TRUMP URGES UNITY VS. RACISM” to “ASSAILING HATE BUT NOT GUNS,” in later editions of the print edition of the Times. Subheads on two articles about the president’s speech also changed.
The staff also discussed when terms like “racist” should be used in stories, and the decision made years ago to eliminate its in-house critic who assessed the paper’s journalism.
Baquet also said Monday the paper has work to do following “significant missteps,” and told the staff that the person who wrote the controversial headline “feels terrible” about what happened, but still cautioned about allowing editing decisions to be determined by outrage on Twitter.
Times Publisher A.G. Sulzberger also spoke, citing statistics showing that only a few people who tweet about Times stories have actually read them.