For the past 152 years, The New York Times has striven to provide a newspaper that adheres to the high standards of integrity put forth by the journalism community. It is apparent, from its influence on the city of New York itself, to the multiple awards that it has received through the years, that it has established and maintained a good reputation. However, for the past month, The Times’ integrity, as well as its ego, has suffered multiple internal bruises. Thankfully, actions are being taken to reverse the trend, and the way in which it has been done is commendable.
On May 1, former reporter Jayson Blair resigned after The Times discovered at least 36 accounts of journalistic fraud and plagiarism. On May 28, a second reporter, Rick Bragg, resigned after he failed to give credit to a freelance writer who had been assisting him. Thursday, The Times’ Executive Editor Howell Raines, and Managing Editor Gerald Boyd, also submitted their resignations, leaving behind them a staff with mixed emotions and many unanswered questions.
According to a CNN.com report, an anonymous staff reporter for The Times declared being “overwhelmed with joy” at the news of their resignations. Art director for The Times’ weekend sections, Jerelle Kraus, said of Raines, “I called him Caligula. … He was the nastiest editor I had ever worked for.” Publisher for The Times, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., delivered the news stating Thursday was “… a day that breaks my heart,” despite rumors that the editors’ resignations were forced. In response to these accusations, Sulzberger said in The Wall Street Journal, “They made a very painful decision … because they felt this action would help The New York Times get past where it has been.”
Despite the circumstances, it is commendable that Raines and Boyd would resign at this time. Ultimately, the face being saved here is that of the newspaper itself. A paper of The Times’ status should be able to recover from a blow of this nature. Hopefully, The Times’ readers can focus more on the appreciation of the fact that this is a paper that frequently produces award-winning articles and journalism without troubling themselves about the truthfulness of what they are reading.