Daily Dispatches
Former <em>New York Times</em> Executive Editor Jill Abramson
Photo by Chris Keane/Getty Images
Former New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson

The New York Times and true diversity

Media

Editor’s note: Nick Eicher, executive producer for WORLD Radio, and Marvin Olasky, editor-in-chief of WORLD News Group, discussed what the firing of The New York Times’ executive editor Jill Abramson means for the newspaper and for journalism.

Eicher: I talked to a media critic friend of mine earlier today, and he said that, “The New York Times always relishes the opportunity to point out when ideological opponents don’t live up to their principles. I hope,” he said, “The New York Times enjoys the scrutiny.” His point being the liberal newspaper of record, which demands laws on pay equity and equal opportunity and so forth, has fired the first woman executive editor who’d evidently complained she wasn’t paid the same as the man who preceded her. Is this, in your mind, Marvin, a legitimate hypocrisy story?

Olasky: Well, it doesn’t look good for the Times, just on the face of it, firing their first woman top editor. But, as far as the facts, somewhat still in dispute, … looks like she was being paid $525,000 and her … male predecessor, had been paid $559,000, so that’s about a 6 percent difference. She’s now being paid $525,000 less than she was a week ago since she’s fired. So was 6 percent, if true, big enough to make such a stink about? I suspect there must be other things going on, especially since it’s quite possible that through bonuses and stock options, she was actually making more money than her predecessor.

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NE: Well, hey, another subject, more or less along the same lines, Marvin, listen to this bit of audio from Jill Abramson’s speech:

“I coauthored a book about Anita Hill, who testified about sexual harassment before an all-white, all-male Senate Judiciary Committee in the 1990s. … She turned that potential humiliation into a great career teaching at Brandeis University and writing books that tell truth to power. Anita was one of the many people who wrote me last week to say they are proud of me. Those messages are so appreciated.” 

Now, again, it sure seems to be foreshadowing sex-discrimination litigation, or at least feeding the speculation. But to the point I wanted to pursue with you, I think the larger issue here, Marvin, is newsroom diversity, and I wanted to use that as a jumping-off point to ask you a different kind of question. When mainstream culture talks about diversity, they talk about counting people by their group identity. You have representative of Group A, representative of Group B, representative of Group C, and, voilá, diversity. But without any thought in that schema to philosophical diversity, … you just get a diverse group of people all thinking the same way, don’t you?

MO: Well sure, and The New York Times, in its past, had a lot of diversity. It was founded in 1851 by Henry Raymond who was a theologically conservative and politically conservative Presbyterian. In 1871, it led a campaign against abortion, calling abortion the “evil of the age.” And, even over the next several decades, there was diversity, there were different opinions. Today, The New York Times is almost uniformly, well, I actually don’t know any exceptions, uniformly pro-abortion [and] uniformly pro-macroevolution and against intelligent design. So on the big issues of the day, The New York Times has zero diversity.

NE: Do you hold out any hope that there would be any change to that, or do you think it’s just going to be more of the same, just getting worse?

MO: Well, technology can come to our aid here. Luther referred to the printing press … as God’s gift to spread the doctrines of the Protestant Reformation. With the internet today, we have enormous opportunities. As Christians, we have to write stories that appeal to broad audiences, and we need to do it without compromising on scriptural truth. It’s a hard assignment, but it’s something that, at the World Journalism Institute, we’re trying to teach students to do, and I’m hopeful that we can make some inroads.

Listen to Marvin Olasky and Nick Eicher talk more about the future of journalism and the work of WORLD Journalism Institute on The World and Everything in It:

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