That, at least, is the only conclusion I can draw from a statement by New York Times Co. boardmember Michael Golden on Episode 4 of The Stack, the Monocle podcast about magazine publishing (at iTunes). At ≈32:00:
Reporters don’t work alone. They work with editors, and that is the unique quality of great journalism. And that’s where the New York Times excels – is the editorial support that helps shape the story and helps the an—the reporter understand the perspective they’re coming from and the perspective that the ins—that the company wants, that the newspaper wants to project. And that’s – it’s just not possible for an individual to do that.
I interpret this statement to mean that, well above and beyond the usual work of editors, corporate managers and even boardmembers lecture New York Times journalists on what the official company line might be on any given topic and force those journalists to conform to it.
I called the New York Times Co. for a comment, but no one was available, according to the receptionist (whom I believed). I E-mailed Abbe Serphos, the company’s executive director of corporate communications; consistent with the Times’s own David Carr’s advice, I was quite clear with Serphos about what I wanted confirmed:
I take this quote at face value. It says that the Times newspaper and company, as a matter of practice, forces or induces its reporters to write coverage in ways that correspond to corporate or newspaper interests. As such, what Golden is saying is that Times reporters do not have journalistic independence (beyond the standard editor/journalist relationship) and are expected to hew to official corporate positions on various, although unspecified, topics.
This would be your chance to explain how this plain reading of Golden’s words is wildly incorrect and does not in fact confirm generations of assumptions about the newspaper’s actual practices and biases.
Serphos did not reply.
To paraphrase Christopher Hitchens, we can begin to make the case for making the case for institutional bias and journalistic interference at the Times with this quote from one of its own boardmembers.