No: The mission of the New York Times hasn’t changed under President Trump, said Times Publisher A.G. Sulzberger at a CNN conference in New York.
When the Erik Wemple Blog tweeted out this sentiment — prompted by a question from “Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter — there was a bit of dissent on Twitter:
That reaction squares with a wider sentiment among “core” readers of the Times, as discussed in this piece by New York University professor Jay Rosen. These “loyalists,” argues Rosen, have a worldview of sorts: “For the most part these are people appalled by Trump who want to see him further exposed. They want the Times to be tougher on his supporters and more relentless in calling out his lies. They want Times journalists to see what they see — an assault on democratic institutions, the corruption of the American Republic — and to act accordingly.”
When the journalists of the Times don’t “act accordingly,” Twitter chronicles the disgust. This Trump interview wasn’t tough enough; that article presented both-siderism that minimizes the horror of Trump; this story on a neo-Nazi is an exercise in normalization.
Sulzberger is surely familiar with these critiques. The mission of the newspaper, however, remains constant: “We seek the truth, we hold power to account and we help people to understand the world. And we’re just doing that with a different story right now,” the publisher said.
None of this should be allowed to obscure the changes that have occurred at the Times, as well as at many of its competitors. They relate to resources: The Times upped its White House reporting contingent to six upon appreciating just how much news the Trump administration would generate. It rejiggered its workflow to respond to Trump’s Twitter output. It put “lie” in a headline. It assigned a trio of investigative reporters to track the Trump family’s finances, a year-plus project that ended in a thundering story documenting fraudulent tax practices. It has worked with documentary crews to show how it goes about its business. And the publisher of the Times met with Trump and warned him about the dangers of his anti-media rhetoric. “If, God forbid, we do have more tragedies along this line, he certainly can’t say he wasn’t warned that his words have consequences,” Sulzberger said.
So even though the mission hasn’t changed, the work has changed a great deal.