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Wed May 31, 2017, 12:50 PM

NYT Eliminates Public Editor Position, To Be Replaced By Reader Feedback

by MATT SHUHAM Published MAY 31, 2017 11:31 AM

The publisher of the New York Times announced Wednesday that the paper was eliminating its public editor position, a role currently held by Liz Spayd.

“The responsibility of the public editor – to serve as the reader’s representative – has outgrown that one office,” Arthur Sulzberger Jr. wrote in a memo to colleagues, which was obtained by TPM. “Our business requires that we must all seek to hold ourselves accountable to our readers. When our audience has questions or concerns, whether about current events or our coverage decisions, we must answer them ourselves.”

Many papers over the years have fazed out public editors, ombudsman and other positions meant to hold publications accountable on readers’ behalf.

Sulzberger outlined a mélange of new and existing measures to fill the void, including “dramatically expanding our commenting platform” to more articles (only 10 percent of articles are currently open to commenting, the memo said); engaging with readers on social media; publishing “behind-the-scenes dispatches describing the reporting process;” and the creation of a “Reader Center,” which Sulzberger described as “the central hub from which we engage readers about our journalism” in which “the work will be shared by all of us.”

Spayd has faced harsh criticism during her short stint in the role, including from the Times’ own executive editor, Dean Baquet.


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