The Public Editor Signs Off

The New York Times may no longer have a public editor, but if that role’s extinguished, who will watch the watchdog?

Comments: 217

  1. I am sorry to see that the Times is eliminating its Public Editor, which helped keep the newspaper conscious of its responsibility and, occasionally, of its missteps.

  2. The creation of this position, and the NYT responses to whatever appeared in these columns has always appeared to me as a soft public relations exercise. It is clear that print media as we know it is under enormous challenges. It is not clear to me how best to contribute to maintaining the important independent media voice, whose presence takes on even more importance in the current political climate. I value enormously much of what I find every day in the NYT, I don't think that whether or not this position exists greatly influences any outcomes or missions.

  3. As a retired Houston Chronicle reporter and NYT subscriber, I'm disappointed, to say the least, at the elimination of the Public Editor's job.

  4. One can only imagine that of all the places that the NY Times could economize, this is the one job category that would be untouchable. What a disappointment. Not a surprise though. It is sad for all of us.

  5. Ms. Spayd, when an institution such as NYTimes has suffered an enormous error/flaw, such as the 2016 election -- that is the time for "hard questions" to be asked.

    The Times has been actually visiting Middle America, absent the hateful wailing from the permanent-political NYC/WashDC corridor and Democrats -- much more needs to be done.

    Example: who is "Mike Morell?" What does he think of politicians, diverting years of taxpayer-funded data to their home computers?

    Ms. Spayd, you did what had to be done, good job. IMHO, life is about meaning. If y'all are going to try to hold others to account, if y'all are going to "dish it out" -- you better be prepared "to take it." Anything less shows hypocrisy.

    Best wishes, going forward.

  6. So we lose the public editor after having 'gained' a right wing columnist. Do I see a trend here?????

  7. The job elimination is shameful but not surprising.

    It happens to coincide with my own decision to stop my subscription. I am looking for balanced reporting.
    Good luck!

  8. So, no more Public Editor. Apres Spayd, le deluge.
    I wish I could say I didn't see this coming, but when the NYT dragged its feet on appointing a successor to Margaret Sullivan, I queried repeatedly on the NYT's Opinion FB page whether the powers that be were hoping to let the position die quietly, and in time everyone would forget there ever was, for one brief shining moment, such a spot.
    I know we commenters have been harsh on you, but you did your best in the epitome of a thankless job, as telling people things they don't want to hear always is (ask Socrates). I hope at least they paid you well.
    The paper's giving evidence to its critics that it's dogmatic, arrogant, and authoritarian, and does not take kindly to challenges to its telling us what to think. Its staff can go back to compiling listicles of how we can practice 'smarter living', asking us to take on faith the authority or even existence of battalions of 'anonymous' sources, and patting themselves on the back. They tasted accountability, didn't like it, and spat it out.

  9. I think you're right about wanting the position to die quietly.
    I think of Spayd as Terry Malloy in "On the Waterfront," and Arthur Sulzburger as Johnny Friendly, ordering her to take a dive.
    First clue, the two month absence of a Public Editor, just as the political campaigns approached the convention stages.
    Second clue: the "redesign" of the Public Editor Home Page. Gone were all of the links to the writings of all prior PEs. Gone was the job description parts stating the PE is "the readers' representative," and, until multiple complaints were lodged, even that the position is concerned "with issues of journalistic integrity." "Readers' representative" never returned until, laughably, Junior Sulzburger's memo of discontinuance of the position.
    Third clue: Elimination of the Public Editor from "Latest from the Opinion Blogs."
    Fourth clue: Sometimes complete absence of links to columns or posts, other than by clicking on "Public Editor" on the Opinion Page.
    Fifth clue: Spayd's seeming inability to understand the difference between an objective, internal critic, and a member of the Times' PR staff.
    Sixth clue: The appalling interview Spayd gave to The Atlantic. "The job of
    Public Editor is to collect and absorb reader email. So that's the job," she said, accurately describing the job of her assistant.
    From Brando to Spayd: "I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let's face it."

  10. Perhaps the NYT is "dogmatic and authoritarian", which is off-putting, but what's worse is that it is more and more rare to find a fact-digging in-depth reporting, and more and more common to find reporting of the superficial "he said this, she said that" variety.

  11. "The paper's giving evidence to its critics that it's dogmatic, arrogant, and authoritarian, and does not take kindly to challenges to its telling us what to think."

    In other words, typically liberal behavior.

  12. I am very unhappy about this and suspicious about why it is happening. I was proud of the New York Times for having a public editor and I believe it has increased the both the quality of reporting and the reputation of the newspaper. Now I am ashamed.

  13. Liz- You did your job well and the paper's response was to fire you by eliminating the public editor position. Today's journalists conflate outrage and hysteria with careful research and checking of sources. Print is not and never should be synonymous with cable or social media. The latter thrive on brief, colorful sound bites. The former is best when time is taken before stories are published. Woodward and Bernstein succeeded because they invested time in developing stories under the guidance of experienced editors. That is why we know who they are today. I doubt that today's journalists including those at the Times will be known to future generations. Good luck and thank you.

  14. Well said. Totally agree.

  15. Oh, Grey Lady.
    You are making me seriously consider what I never thought I would - cancelling my subscription to the NYT. If I recall, the Public Editor position was created as a solution to an series of egregious ethical concerns - have those concerns completely vanished? or is this just another budgetary move that is profoundly short-sighted?

    We need strong, ethical, thoughtful, reflective and professional journalism in this era where much of the government is not characterized by those adjectives. Why be journalists if you aren't willing to make the commitment to do it right?

    You are breaking my heart, NYT. That's said without a note of hyperbole.

  16. " If I recall, the Public Editor position was created as a solution to an series of egregious ethical concerns..."

    You recall wrong. It was pr from the word go, as its elimination confirms.

  17. "Having the role was a sign of institutional integrity, and losing it sends an ambiguous signal: Is the leadership growing weary of such advice...?"

    I know I'll be interested too.

  18. Pretty unambiguous signal that yes, they don't want any kind of self regulation.

  19. You were a fantastic public editor, and the NY Times is making a tremendous mistake by letting you go.

  20. Maybe if the current occupant had been effective or respected by either the readers or the editors, they would have recognized the value of keeping the position.

  21. I am sad to see the Public Editor position go, and am very disappointed in the NYTs. The stated reasoning for eliminating the position is weak and suspect.

  22. It is rather ironic that the article about reducing the number of editors has a correction filed.

  23. As a subscriber since 1987, I am deeply disappointed by the decision to eliminate the public editor's role. This is a tragedy for good journalism, and frankly, as loyal as I have been to The Times, is making it exceedingly difficult for me to maintain my subscription status. There's a newspaper in DC that appears to be doing some excellent work. . . .

  24. I hope that the Times will reconsider this unfortunate decision.

  25. It is shameful and disgusting that the NYT is eliminating this vital position. I would expect such a move from the likes of Trump, but never from the Times.

  26. You are now woke!

  27. I have been a print subscriber for decades. I feel disappointment and concern about the decision to eliminate the public editor position. I think the current incumbent has done well, and played a valuable role.

    With the Trump administration casting off norms and structures that represent accountability, it is not good to see the Times doing something of the same. To the management I say, please rethink this, and bring back this important channel of independent reflection on your performance. I find it hard to believe that the Times cannot afford the costs of this position. I wonder if, in pursuit of the Times's mission, this loss of a balancing voice is affordable.

  28. They aren't going to listen to us; that's their whole message.

  29. I didn't always agree with the way the Public Editor addressed issues, but I definitely think the Times loses bigly by erasing the position. It's in line with a lot that's changed in the past year or two, but a mistake.

  30. "Sad." - to put this in modern Trumpian vernacular.

    I don't know what the NYT is turning into, but it is losing that high-quality veneer that I used to sense when I first fell in love with this paper years ago. As a mid-30s age conservative I have often disagreed with 90 percent of the content of this paper, but that hasn't stooped me from loving it out of the sheer literary and intellectual quality. That aura is slipping. Some devilish, penny-saving, top-down, "cutting-edge" algorithm seems to be dragging this paper into the pop-up ad, cheapo swamp of modern online journalism; valuing shiny click-bait multi-media, and poll-tested, echo-chamber-friendly, OBVIOUS content, over brave, individualistic, ORIGINAL, human brilliance. The purging of the public-editor is just another brick in the wall.

  31. You mention the "literary" quality of the Times. I've seen its writing standards go down in the last few years. Recently I've seen stories where "its" is spelled "it's," "than" is spelled "that," the subjunctive isn't used ("was" instead of "were"), "myself" is used when "me” is correct, with the comparative “than,” an object is used rather than a subject (“he’s taller than me,” rather than “he’s taller than I (am),” and so on.

    When Times writers don’t know how to write grammatically correct sentences, my respect for the publication goes down. Call me a grammar nut? I wear that label proudly.

  32. I have recently subscribed to the Washington Post -- in addition to my online NYT subscription that I have had forever. I did this because the Post's coverage of the Trump administration is much more thorough and timely. The announced cutbacks seem to partly answer why this is so. But, to cut this particular position seems to be the most counterproductive cut possible. If readers like me are already feeling disaffected for one reason or another, a thinner, top-down approach is not going to appease us. I fear for the Times as an institution that has done so much good in the world.

  33. I have a WaPo subscription, too. I got it partly because I think Liz Spayd was a terrible Public Editor who confused the truth with partisanship. I was very fond of Margaret Sullivan, the previous Public Editor. Spayd, in my view was a way of spaying the NYT readership.
    But I want the NYT to have a Public Editor who understands the job.

  34. One of the things I don't think anyone will find at WaPo is a comments section that even comes close to this one. Gems are few and far between at the WaPo, where commenting usually quickly devolves into one- or two-sentence comebacks, frequently quite nasty. I never learn anything there; here I frequently do.

  35. Can we start a Go Fund Me page to purchase some Kevlar and flashlights for Liz - Evan - Eric so they are not out in the street buck naked and stumbling around in the dark?

    We in Langley encourage Liz to come to Langley and be a NOC for a stealth Company and do a Wiki-Leaks like news organization on Putin and all his associates in Russia as well as in the US. Did a Putin associate invest in the NYT and get you fired?

  36. Zbig has passed and nobody replaces his skill or knowledge on the topic of how to hold a shot caller's mirror tke he could.

  37. The Times under the "new" Editor-in-Chief has made several missteps and this is one of them. Another was the rather transparent way in which they went after Bernie Sanders. Also, even though I am appalled in every possible way by Trump, I worry about the coverage of his many failings, which sometimes seems indiscriminate - therefore confusing readers about what the really big stories are, and what qualifies as gossip.

    I hope this is a decision that the Times will reconsider. The argument that the Times will listen to its readers for feedback is a weak one, and not worthy of the institution. It panders to its readership's sense of importance, but does not respect their intelligence is smelling the whiff of BS it contains...

  38. Just wanted to note complete disagreement with the constant harping by disappointed Bernie supporters that the NYT "went after" him.

  39. Anyway you look at it, elimination of the Public Editor is diminishing.

  40. I will miss the Public Editor column and find it one more example of how far the NYT's has stumbled. Honestly, is having someone on staff who write articles about the latest downfall of Tiger Woods more important then having this important column.

    I do agree with what Mike Morell said. Since Trump became President, you can feel the almost hatred your publication and much of the main stream media has for him. Sadly, it now feels like you are a more intelligent version of Fox News. Trump will be gone in less then four years, but the damage the media has inflicted on itself will last a very long time.

  41. And the damage that Trump has already inflicted and will continue to inflict on this country and indeed the world will quite possibly last even longer. "Less than four years" is far too long. Just why is it, do you think, that it so looks like the mainstream media hates Trump? Do you think perhaps, just perhaps, they see clearly given their resources and their investigations just what a horror has managed to find its way into the White House? I'm sorry, you don't have to read or listen to anything in the mainstream media to recognize how awful, how dangerous, the situation has become. Simply listen to Trump himself. Read his tweets. Read books that were written about him years ago by people who knew him. Personally, I would be pretty outraged if our mainstream media were not going after him with everything they've got.

    Climate change? His posturing pull-out from the Paris Climate Accord yesterday will do immense damage to this country economically and to both the U.S. and the world as we under this totally incompetent mess in the White House give up any effort to provide leadership in tackling a global problem. Years and years of work put into a treaty that brought together all the world's countries (with two exceptions) and all Trump can do is WHINE about how unfair it is to the second biggest emitter (and largest on a per capita basis) of green house gases in the world.

    What's not to hate? Stop making excuses for him.

  42. However the Times decides to conserve resources/save money, I don't think they should scrimp on whatever supports the integrity of their coverage. Doing away with the public editor (and reducing the number of copy editors) cannot help but impair the scrupulousness that we've come to expect.

  43. Oh, please!

    Your columns have rarely impressed me, and, although I'm sorry you need to move on, a little more class in this final one would have put you in better stead with your readers.

  44. No. Your readers are just fine, except that they will no longer have you to read.

  45. No to both. We readers will no longer have a place to register complaints about journalistic integrity, not that that issue interested Spayd much.

  46. Michael Morell on Cipher Brief: "... in order to be effective, journalists cannot take sides or even appear to take sides."

    And that is why Times employees should not be blathering about their personal opinions on social media. When they do that, they do indeed "appear to take sides".

    Unfortunately, with the elimination of the Public Editor's position, there will no longer be a public forum at the Times for readers to criticize the Times for taking sides.

    ‘Leave the Editorializing to Our Colleagues on the Opinion Side’
    by Liz Spayd
    SEPT. 7, 2016

  47. It seems that fewer and fewer NYT news stories and other pieces allow comments.
    They simply don't care what readers think.

  48. I thought Ms. Spayd was a terrible pubic editor, her appearance on the Tucker Carlson show was particularly disgraceful, but the Times needs a Public Editor and removing the position entirely is more disgraceful than anything the current public editor has done. Shame on the paper for disregarding those readers who think the position is an important one.

  49. The recent interview with The Atlantic might even have been worse. "The job of the Public Editor is to collect and absorb reader e-mail. So that's the job."
    Astonishingly, she exactly described the job of her estimable assistant, Evan Gershkovich.
    Margaret Sullvan had a really useful home page that Spayd quickly dismantled upon arrival. Sullivan's page featured links to the writings of every previous Public Editor, and links to the Times' standards, such as "Assuring Our Credibility."

    Spayd's home page deleted the two most important parts of her job description, that the PE is "the readers' representative," and is "concerned with issues of journalistic integrity." After a number of interchanges with Mr. Gershkovich, the "journalistic integrity" bit returned, but "readers' representative" never did make it back, and that was abundantly obvious in everything Spayd wrote. She had no use for us readers.

  50. Elimination of this position is a mistake that I think the Times will regret. The question, to my mind, is who will watch the watchdog? The Public Editor fulfilled a sort of checks-and-balances role within the Times that I think is more necessary now than ever before. I imagine that trying to stand above the fray and provide reasoned responses was no easy task, but it was (and will continue to be) a task worth doing. I hope the Times will reconsider this decision and reinstate the role, if only to continue to be able to say that the paper takes every possible step to ensure its mission of reporting the facts in a calm and unbiased manner.

  51. Geoff, you are right in all but one aspect. The Times is so wrongheadedly sure of itself that it will not regret it.
    In fact, it is the Edith Piaf of journalism: "Rien, je ne regrette rien..."

  52. I used to gush to my friends that The New York Times was such a robust organization, such a learning organization, it hired someone just to watch-over it's journalism and, if necessary, critique their journalistic operations. Not any longer. By canning its Public Editor, The Times has sold-out to mediocrity just as CBS News did in dismissing Scott Pelley. I'm sure Trump smiled with early morning Twitter delight to see the news. Without the public editor position journalistic hubris and good old egotistical bloat will surely get The Times in trouble. Such a shame, too.

  53. I was so sad to hear that "public editor" was no longer needed. huh? I have written a couple times when I perceived a kind of 'group think' happening in reporting. I always thought the public editor was a person the reader could give a 'heads up'. As much as owners/publishers, etc. keep saying "don't worry, quality won't be sacrificed", I don't believe it for one second. Sorry to see you go...

  54. Deleting this position is a mistake. It was created as a responsible way to address the Jason Blair debacle back in the early 2000s. Margaret Sullivan set a standard of responsibility that exceeded that of any other publication -- and provided readers with an insightful understanding of how editorial decisions are made. That insight made us better readers -- and more appreciative and respectful of the lengths to which the NYT held its position among other newspapers. During Ms. Sullivan's tenure, I read it faithfully. It has not been as keen in recent months, but it is still a worthy feature and it will be missed.

  55. Thank you Liz for the past year's efforts. I have looked forward to your regular updates of issues that came before you and was impressed at how you followed through and got definitive responses on the hows and whys of what went into reporting the news. I learned a lot. I'll miss your columns.

  56. As someone who is responsible for maintaining news standards and best practices at my organization (Voice of America), I've followed all of the Time' public editors since the position was created. I believe that a public editor/ombudsman is still vital for any news outlet, and I'm sorry that the Times has eliminated the position. Wishing you best of luck in your next endeavor.

  57. So an increasingly tone deaf NYT doubles down by eliminating the Public Editor. This should go well..

  58. Cutting this role seems to be a strangely tone-deaf choice. Readers of the Times want to be engaged in dialogue, not simple online trolling, and this position promised that some dialogic give and take was at least theoretically possible. Someone is listening--that was the message. One single editor serving in this capacity is therefore more valuable than several other faceless folks toiling behind the scenes. If this move is to save money, it surely represents poor budgeting. False economy like this might cost dearly for readers like me.

  59. Thanks to the Public Editors, they helped get our opinions heard and kept the NY Times crew aware.
    Time for the Times to print a full page of Letters To The Editor, every day - and not simply because my one and only in print letter was 15 years ago...
    There will always be some issue that comes off tone deaf on the pages of the Times. There will be columns of news and opinion written with a touch of the oblivious. Attention must be paid.
    Thanks for reading

  60. It doesn't seem an appropriate time to be cutting this essential function. Had we known, we could have done a GoFundMe for your salary and benefits. Sad.

  61. It's not an issue of money. It's an issue of reporters and editors who don't like seeing their hyper-partisanship exposed for what it is.

  62. ...very interesting concept da!...what if liz could be funded to become an Independent Public Editor???

  63. This is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

    How convenient for the NYT to fire the much-criticized Liz Spayd and get rid of her position at the same time, so as to make them seem like good guys who only want the news-consuming experience to be more rewarding for for readers in this brave new world of postmodern digital content.

    What an utterly lame way to announce that the NYT will no longer be strapped by any meaningful internal review process. What a clever way to tell the reading public to Drop Dead. The paper actually one-upped Trump by pulling out of its tacit agreement with its readership jjust days before the US pulled out of the climate pact.

    Unaccountability has become the name of the game, no matter the agency or the corporate entity.

    But rejoice! As a consolation prize for no more human public editor, the Times will be opening up most articles to reader comments, so that reporters can more easily "interact" with the thousands upon thousands of atomized beings wafting on their screens! It'll be interesting to see how that works out, vis a vis journalism in the public interest.

    It's telling that Ms. Spayd sees the divide in this country as partisan rather than as class-based. It's also telling that she quotes a former CIA spook as some sort of expert on media ethics. In too many columns, she's acted more as a PR flack and establishment mouthpiece than as a public representative.

    So good job, Ms. Spayd. You passed your exit interview with flying colors.

  64. She just wasn't very good.

  65. Lady, it's very easy for you to shout "No!" and "Keep them!" when the Times and most other newspapers have been hemorrhaging money for the last 10-15 years as the net smashes ad revenue that kept these once-giant media companies alive.

    Start a GoFundMe, raise the money it would take to keep Liz Spayd and send it to Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr, if you want her to stay, I say.

  66. Well Charles, last week I got myself a Washington Post subscription. NYT is hemorrhaging money because it 'reports' with a neoconservative bias.

  67. Sorry to see you go, but NYT needs the money to pay a hefty salary to Bret Stephens so he can tell us how Annexation of Golan should be permitted, but Annexation of Crimea should face sanctions, not to mention his predictable future rant for a war with Iran.

  68. Wonder how management feels about this hire this week after the less than intellectual reasoning put forth in our nation's Rose Garden?

  69. Ironically, it was only in the last several months that I began to pay attention to the Public Editor columns, and I found them reassuring. They spoke to the integrity of the Times and the seriousness of its mission. The elimination of this position has significantly shaken my confidence in the Times and moved them (in my mind) into the category of institutions that no longer give a fig for the guy without money or influence. It's a sad day.

  70. I am very disappointed to hear that the Public Editor position is being eliminated, and have written to the Executive Editor expressing so. The idea that this position is "outdated" is ludicrous and an insult to NYT readers and subscribers (I'm both). I think Mr. Sulzberger's forced attempt to justify the elimination of the position was rhetorical hogwash. I will be keeping this in mind as I evaluate which journalistic organizations that I choose to support through subscription. Reading the Public Editor column (yours and your predecessors) was always illuminating and helpful in understanding how the news room operates and makes decisions. Even when I didn't agree with the decisions being made, I very much appreciated the explanation and understanding of the behind the scenes process. Very very sorry to see you go. All the best to you in the future.

  71. I disagreed with you often, but I'm sorry to see your position close and you no longer be here watching over things. All the best to you.

  72. Sometimes the truth is partisan, Liz. I don't want flat earth "journalism" from the NYT. This country is being destroyed by right wing and corporate media monopolies. People hunger for the truth. So goodbye and good riddance to you.

    The NYT needs a good Public Editor like Margaret Sullivan. She understood her role. It saddens me that they have decided to do without one.

  73. This comment most closely expresses my opinion. Margaret Sullivan was an excellent Public Editor. After her departure, I read articles written by the present Public Editor from time to time but not with the same devotion. Eventually I decided to subscribe to the Washington Post just to read Margaret Sullivan's articles, but found myself responding to that paper in ways that I have spent decades being devoted, as a New Yorker, to the New York Times. Yes, I subscribe to this paper but more for local issues rather than serious journalism which I have sought elsewhere. Even so, I still think the NYT should reconsider this decision.

  74. Maybe it's just me but perhaps the CEO of the NYT could have foregone a small fraction of his five million dollar annual compensation package to safeguard this important role.

  75. Maybe they didn't need to incinerate $30 million on opinion websites, The Wirecutter and The Sweet Home. As a chef, I can tell you that the Sweet Home is 100% useless. It would have been cheaper and more effective to simply start an "Ask Melissa Clark" feature.
    And let us not consider the $400 million loss the Times took in buying then selling the Boston Globe...

  76. The NYT continues its decent into the grave of Journalism.
    With this latest purge, its face - at first just ghostly - has turned a whiter shade of pale.

  77. It has been less than 6 weeks since I reinstated my paid subscription, following the reasoning that fiction is cheap and truth is expensive. Through the public editor, the Times demonstrated that it was willing to hold itself accountable, and that is one of the reasons I decided that it was worthwhile to pay for the paper instead of reading it at the library. But instead of objective reporting and intelligently considered opinion, I am now seeing the same sort of "all opinions are valid and entitled to equal weight" nonsense that drives the tabloids. I am rather disappointed.

  78. If your choice was between subscribing and reading the Times at the library, you're not in the demographic they're interested in.

  79. I have appreciated the work of all of the Public Editors; it is a difficult position to do well.

    The NYT has made an unfortunate though highly symbolic decision to eliminate the position of Public Editor during a time of significant turmoil in journalism. I assume most users of the column include the NYT as a part of their reading and compare its offering to the many other sources available. While the public editor seem to have very little actual access to those who made decisions, the responses to reader inquiries were useful in many ways that other sources made difficult to examine.

    At some point, I expect a new version of "public editor" will fill the gap between readers and producers of content; in the meantime, other sources of information may well build on their advantages to be the source of the "first look".

    Good luck to Ms. Spayd with the hope that her term as public editor did not diminish her value as an employee.

  80. If the Times is really on a "mission" to tell the Truth, it ought to be keeping the Public Editor--unless the truth it's interested in is only about others.

    The Times is making a serious mistake, and it doesn't make the NYT look good.

    Thank you and all who came before you.

  81. Coming on the same day as the announcement that copy editing ranks were being reduced, the elimination of the Public Editor position does not bode well for quality control efforts at NYT.
    This position serves a vital function, and it will be sorely missed.
    Perhaps it should be replaced with a new slogan: "We regret the errors."

  82. The Times is behaving exactly like the Trump administration: eliminate the internal critics, and make it more difficult for the external ones to have a voice.

  83. This is yet another of the rather peculiar downsizing decisions that the powers that be at the New York Times continue to make. The Public Editor is a critical function for this newspaper and cutting this position is rather foolish. The New York Times does not include a means to readily contact the journalists - see the the Boston Globe, Washington Post, and the Maine Sunday Telegram to name a few newspapers which have the email addresses for the journalists. And I often write to complement them on a well done article. The Public Editor is an important way for the Times editors and staff to get some sense of what their readership and larger nation's population think about various topics. Please reconsider this rather shortsighted move. Thank you.

  84. You quote former CIA acting director, Mike Morrell, in warning of the damage to media credibility that takes place when reputable newspapers and television stations act as the official opposition to administrations they disfavor (or as supporters of administrations they favor) instead of as impartial purveyors of the facts. I'm glad you tried to bring this warning to the attention of the NYT and sorry that you will no longer be doing so. It is dispiriting enough to read editorials that never fail to go overboard but at least in those cases you know which columnists to ignore. When news and backgrounder reports start to become slanted, however, you're forced to discount much of what they say and to read between the lines to get at the truth. This may not be an entirely bad approach to reading the newspaper or watching the news but, as Morrell points out, it leads to polarization and cynicism. Luckily, the NYT is above reproach in this regard and can dispense with superfluous reminders of its contract with the reader.

  85. "It is dispiriting enough to read editorials that never fail to go overboard..." The editorials are so biased and pre-programmed to fit the Times's longstanding agenda, that I never read them. I consider them a waste of time.

  86. I would like to thank you and your predecessors in this job. I think your biggest value was helping readers see behind the curtain and understand the processes of a major paper. But you also helped keep them to stay honest and not get lost in their own echo chamber. Eliminating the position is very shorted sighted and I wonder whether the next scandal or the one after that will bring the position back. The position was created after the Jayson Blair scandal and the publisher at the time seemed to understand that trust is easier to lose that get back. Looking back this will be one more tone deaf move by the paper on it's road to either oblivion or irrelevance.

  87. This is a truly pure example of, "What could they possibly have been thinking?"

    In addition to being an open testament to the NYT arrogance and not wanting to hear bad news - it's utterly tone deaf. Is media credibility suddenly at an all-time high? Are charges of bias, selective reporting, and "fake news" suddenly at an all-time low?

    Have the likes of Jayson Blair, Stephen Glass, Janet Cooke, Jack Kelley, Brian Williams, etc. been exterminated from journalism forever more?

    So why do this?

    Pride precedeth a fall. In a future time this will will have been seen as a very foolish and foolhardy mistake.

    Godspeed Liz Spayd.

  88. I would not have subscribed had I known that this position would be eliminated. This is a dreadful decision by the Times!

  89. I am shocked to learn of the elimination of this post, but I understand why. The New York Times has decided to drop all pretense of following any kind of recognizable journalistic standard based on intellectual honesty and checks and balances. The Times cannot resist the temptation to deliver non stop excoriation of Trump to its reflexively hyperventilating liberal reader base. There is too much money to be made feeding this appetite to spend time and money pretending to have a channel for the public to engage the Times on editorial and approach issues. Sad and really disappointing for some of us old timers who remember the dignity this newspaper once had.

    Ms. Spayd for what it's worth, as an independent minded political thinker, I think you did a much better job than your predecessor by maintaining higher standards of independence and open mindedness on volatile issues. Cheers to you, and good luck to us all now.

  90. Time to give my subscription money to the Washington Post. Kind of tired to read about multi million dollar brownstones, dream weddings of people with substantial resources, or whatever the latest fluff piece happens to be. If I am going to be paying for journalism it might as well be fluff-free or at least fluff-light.

  91. GroovyGeek, Oh, so true. Especially the week-end edition ot the NY Times. I throw most of it away knowing there's very little worth wasting my time on.

  92. The Washington Post is worse. Ridiculously provincial. Poorly edited.
    Save your money.
    For all its many obvious failings, NYT is a much superior rag.

  93. Sorry to hear this. Seems like they are reopening the door to the next Judy Miller being hooked into leading us off to DJT's next war, that we know he is hunting for.

  94. This is a very sad and mistaken decision. It's a throwing in of the towel, no doubt about that.

  95. This was Ms. Spayd's best column, and one of the Times's worst decisions. You cannot foist the public editor function on the twitter-verse or whatever. Clarion, insider perspectives are vital to keeping traditional (read: accountable) news outlets from descending into the internet's garbage-void. What happens if the Times's anonymous, headline-generating sources have been lying to the Times?! What happens if a journalist has been fabricating his or her anonymous sources?! Who represents the public when it comes to journalistic integrity at a beloved news outlet? Because if we think that Twitter, Reddit, CNN, the White House, members of congress, Buzzfeed, or Fox News are adequate surrogates for the public in the debate about the Times's integrity, we are severely, sorely mistaken.

  96. A public editor's effectiveness depends on the support of the top newsroom editor. Since the position was created, there has been a tension between the public editor and the staff members he or she might criticize. If the top editor does not make it clear to everyone farther down the chain that the public editor has the right to discuss stories with people responsible for writing and editing them and to potentially criticize the decisions made, the position cannot be successful. It has become increasingly clear that that top-level support was being withheld. It's a loss for the Times.
    What is also unfortunate is the reduction in editing staff. This will not improve the quality of the journalism, and anyone who would argue it will is dreaming.

  97. Jill Abramson seemed to listen to Margaret Sullivan. As Managing Editor, Dean Baquet at least responded to questioning.
    Once Baquet's palace coup supplanted Abramson, Baquet was less responsive. That in May he declined to answer Spayd's questions, and Spayd gave a dishonest boilerplate answer about what normally happens showed the writing on the wall. Baquet is abysmal, and will brook no truth about that fact.

  98. The slashing of the editorial staff is the larger story, much more important than the dismissal of one individual who was much more prominent but largely ineffectual in her role.

  99. One can only imagine to area of the Times towards which these resources will now be directed --

    (Waiting to see an increase in coverage in the "Fashion & Style" section) -

    Although I had my issues with Ms. Spayd's approach - the Public Editor is the only channel by which serious readers can directly challenge the editorial content of the Times - save for sitting down, writing a letter, and snail-mailing it --

    Basically, as the Times moves more and more towards a digital business model - especially during a period when The President of the United States delights in using Twitter to express himself on short-attention-span bursts - one hopes that the Millennial audience on which the Times is placing all its chips, will come through with a return on the gamble -- because that's what it is...

    Thanks and good luck to you Ms. Spayd -

    I look forward to reading your voice elsewhere - hopefully sometime in the near future...

  100. I am shocked the Times is eliminating this position. Now more than ever this position is so important. I implore the Times to reconsider this move.

  101. Thanks for your work and that of the other public editors. It is certainly tone deaf for the Times to have eliminated the Public Editor position when independent journalism is under such partisan attack.

  102. With the occasional exception of Margaret Sullivan, Times Public Editors have been advocates of Times' management, fully indoctrinated in the biases of the Washington consensus which drives so much reporting at this newspaper, WaPO and corporate media generally.

    How many columns on Times' skewed coverage of foreign affairs? Or the shameless treatment accorded Bernie Sanders and currently dished out to Bill de Blasio? Or the sorts of failures which led to de facto Times promotion of the invasion of Iraq? Or on the shocking ignorance, or willful dishonesty, of much economic reporting, most recently on Social Security?

    That even slight and occasional criticism is unendurable at the Times doesn't speak well of the profession.

    Better than nothing doesn't mean "good".

  103. Ms. Sullivan, most of the time, blindly followed her fellow journalists. Remember the Tesla matter, in which she was far more angry that the reporter had been monitored while driving the car than about the reporter's deceit in his article? Remember how she was blindly behind the times in the James Risen matter, where she wanted a press shield extended to a book-writer?

  104. I don't know exactly how Spayd's involvement influences the content the NYTimes produced during her brief tenure, but the NYTimes has been woefully inconsistent in its coverage since she came on board. Hyperbolic headlines that were later quietly edited, stories that did a poor job objectively reporting facts, and a willingness to dive headfirst into stories with little or no consideration for the merits of said stories has been a hallmark of the Times since Spayd came on board. The coverage of Wikileaks' DNC email releases and the absurdly over-the-top coverage given the Comey letter in October were indicative of a NYTimes' less concerned with journalistic rigor and far more concerned with simply being "first." Add to that the bewildering lack of investigative coverage of Trump leading up to the election made the Times' reporting lop-sided and politically questionable.

    If Spayd's supposed actions while Public Editor were actually reflected in the NYTimes' reporting, then this comment wouldn't be necessary and I'd be lamenting her leaving. But in reality she's done a horrible job and I applaud the NYTimes for finally getting rid of her. Her influence on the paper and has severely tarnished the Gray Lady and forced me to move onto to other outlets such as the Washington Post.

    I'm glad to see the likes of Liz Spayd leave the NYTimes. She talks a good game out of one side of her mouth but her actions don't match her empty rhetoric.

  105. Eliminating the position to remove Spayd from it is almost the definition of "throwing out the baby with the bathwater."

  106. You and the position will be much missed!

  107. Honestly, having read Public Editor columns for years the simple answer is that Ms. Spyd just wasn't very good at it. Following Clark Hoyt and Margaret Sullivan isn't easy and she simply wasn't up to the task. Indeed they were as or more critical of Times coverage than she has been. She was just routinely off point and too slow to respond to news. I don't think this buyout had a thing to do with her criticism. I think the Times realized it had made a mistake and instead of an unattractive firing it went with the "we've eliminated the job" tactic. My husband and I stopped reading her months ago.

  108. I think she did the best she could, but face it, she came in knowing, from the history of her predecessors, that she was window dressing. It's rather dispiriting to persevere in that situation.

  109. Yeah, right, you quit reading months ago, and yet here you are. What horse hockey!

  110. Hear, hear, she was a not even close to the standard set by Sullivan. And that is being kind about it.

  111. The Times is wonderful in its light-features and service-features departments. The reviews of movies, restaurants, books (daily except for Sunday), albums, etc., are wonderful. The Business section is good. As for hard news, however, The Times is difficult to take seriously anymore. And the Opinionists? They shriek instead of reason. A number of them seem to have lost their heads completely. Why not sell a discounted online subscription to all of the non-hard-news content? Oh, and it was great to have a public editor, though the outgoing one only occasionally rose to the level "just okay."

  112. I'm gonna try the Wash Poe like the previous comment mentioned: it's just I don't have time to read read, And I wonder if Wash Poe will come in a digital format… Maybe a stupid question, but I'm old & stupid so no problem!

  113. This is a big disappointment. It is so hard for institutions to stick to their core values in times of upheaval. Having an independent voice with the gravitas and the forum to provide input can help institutions avoid letting small missteps turn into larger shifts in culture and accountability. The public editor gave the Times this voice and as a loyal reader, I am sad to see this great institution become a little more fragile today.

    It would take courage for the Times' leadership to reconsider their decision and course correct. I hope that happens.

  114. Management says that readers on social media will perform this function. But they can't go to editors,writers etc. and have in-person conversations about specific articles or general issues, and they don't have a professional perspective that lets them recognize quickly when something that looks small represents an important change. And their comments and conclusions don't appear in the paper itself, other than in the letters section, which has in general quite a different function, or in the online comments where insightful views can get lost amid all the high-temperature, low-information rhetoric. It's hard not to see this move as the reaction of people who don't like to be criticized. And it feels consistent with the way that legitimate controversies regarding The Times tend not to be covered in The Times (another reason to keep an eye on the Washington Post, for example, and not to get all of one's information from even this one good source).

  115. Well put, Stephen Merritt in Gainesville.

  116. I appreciate your input, and maybe what a previous comment mentioned; that it's not going well for the current public ed. and it's just a change of public editor ship e.g. we're not firing you were just letting you go, by saying we are illuminating the position

  117. Horrible!

    And at the same time, the NYT continues its corruption of our little Comments Corner, Readers Picks, with its corrupting Gold Thumb.

    Giving multiplied exposure to comments the NYT picks, so what is presented as most recommended by readers will actually be those advanced by the cursed NYT Gold Thumb.

  118. I thought that was a gold ribbon not a thumb. Those approved comments just save time for getting your thoughts in the proper alignment.

  119. "Gold thumb" I thought it was something that I said though!

  120. I agree with Mr. Purcell. Eliminate the NYT pics; we readers can and should choose for ourselves.

  121. I was just debating with myself about stopping my print subscription of over 30 years and decided to give a little more time for the Times to regain some class. I had already subscribed to the Washington Post and now will look into the Guardian.

    You folks have just about lost me with this move.

  122. Yes, the Washington Post and the Guardian remain the keepers of journalistic credibility, something that gets harder and harder to find.

  123. Brian, I'm in the same boat as you. I find the Washington Post a much better newspaper than the NY Times, as I do The Guardian. I subscribe to both. I also subscribe to The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Talking Points Memo and other non mainstream press. My 27 year allegiance to the NY Times is most likely now reaching the end.

  124. I've tried WaPo twice. If you really enjoy commenting, it will drive you nuts. It never says when comments are closed, it just tells you there is an error. Try again later. The number of comment columns are crashing. Sometimes they close comments after 10, other times, for less interesting articles after 3k. But, not telling you they are. They close them with few comments between the time you click submit, till it says it can't.
    They kept telling me my only problem was the fact I had an IPad, with a special customer email to write to, wanting me to figure out the problem, supply all pertinent data, & multiple screenshots. I told them I would for $1000. But, that I wouldn't do their work for free. No answer that time, guess they didn't think I was funny, or afraid the boss would take me up on it. I dunno.
    I don't buy print, waste of paper. Only reason I still get Time & NatGeo is that it is the only way to get the digital version & hubby still prefers the magazine version. I like reading articles that if taken one on one are all over the place. Makes me think. If you don't like to, I suggest you will save lots on Blood Pressure medicine by not reading ANY paper. Just watch the news on a local station, most are still the 'just the facts ma'am'. No thinking needed.

  125. "I leave this job plenty aware that I have opinions"..... you had opinions ???!!! Plural ? Well I guess we never saw them. You made a significant position pointless. Bravo. With this, I bid adieu to my subscription. NYT is no longer even pretending to have any integrity.

  126. At least not yours. First her opinions were not of any concern to the people who wrote her with suggestions, complaints, orders. It was her job to dig through everyone on the paper to attempt to find someone with authority over that subject & heckle them until they said something she could put in her column.
    What we who write in the comment columns were also none of her concern. Only the ones who took time to write to her. They didn't even have to be subscribers. Maybe that needed to be better explained. If you wanted to yell at her, you should have yelled AT HER. Not here. Long ago.
    As far as your subscription, since all you seem to care about is others opinions, maybe now without this subscription, you can form your own. That is what what these comments columns are for.

    Bye, don't let the door hit you on your backside on the way out.

  127. What she meant to say is that in leaving this job she is fully aware she was never able to share those opinions with the paper's editors/owners.

  128. In a statement, Mr. Sulzberger said:

    “Our followers on social media and our readers across the internet have come together to collectively serve as a modern watchdog, more vigilant and forceful than one person could ever be,” he wrote. “Our responsibility is to empower all of those watchdogs, and to listen to them, rather than to channel their voice through a single office.”

    Sorry, total horse hockey. As if there's one editor at the Times who is reading the comments sections, much less Dean Baquet. Comment sections are a marketing tool to add clicks to the website, that's it.

    On the other hand, the only thing worse than the NYT not listening to readers would be the NYT setting standrads and policy based on the opinions of the mob. That would be stupendously stupid.

  129. “Our followers on social media and our readers across the internet have come together to collectively serve as a modern watchdog, more vigilant and forceful than one person could ever be." What planet does this man live on?

  130. 'Comment sections are a marketing tool to add clicks to the website, that's it.'
    Yup, I've been saying that since before forever. And yet, here you are, here I am, screaming into the void yet again. Perhaps because we hope other commenters read them, sometimes.
    However, the NYT solons do at least skim the comments - the Picks, anyway - for cheerleaders echoing their position, which they then post on the NYT opinion FB page. So both are true; the commenting function is a marketing tool, but they do look at it, as it is also a source of generating free content, to which they own the copyright.

  131. "On the other hand, the only thing worse than the NYT not listening to readers would be the NYT setting standrads and policy based on the opinions of the mob. That would be stupendously stupid."

    If you followed Liz at all over the last year you'd know that that's exactly what she did.

  132. Fare well, Ms. Spayd.

    Heed well, Mother Times.

  133. The Washington Post keeps hiring and the Times continues to shrink its news-gathering apparatus; I'm just wondering when The Newspaper of Record will move to area code 202

  134. Alan, to be fair - WaPo is owned by the second richest man in America (soon, perhaps, to be the first), who bought it just a few years ago for a mere 200mil. They are not hampered by the loss of advertisers and rising costs. Our NYTimes rallies on, hopefully for many years to come.

  135. Maybe the NYT Company should contact Mike Bloomberg and see if he might be interested in investing if money is an issue. Bloomberg is very profitable, does great work and has a much larger staff.

    You cannot fire your way to growth. If the leadership of the NYT thinks giving content away on Facebook is the path forward they should prepare to be disappointed.

  136. I wish people like editors, actors, entrepreneurs and the like would quit thinking of themselves as "rock stars" as evidenced by the Marshall stack and shadow photo accompanying this article.

    Musicians are cool not because of this photo, but because we are tuned in and tapped into other realms mere mortals will never know.

    You guys want to be us so badly that you invented "Guitar Hero" so people who can't play can at least fantasize that they're standing in front of a stack of Marshalls.

    To quote the Orange One, "Sad."

  137. CF: 'I wish people ... would quit thinking of themselves as "rock stars" as evidenced by the Marshall stack and shadow photo accompanying this article.'

    The photo shows the shadow of English singer Paul Rodgers, who started a band called "Bad Company".

    That suggests a far more subversive interpretation than yours.

    Hint: Google "Michael Putland marshall".

    2017-06-02 22:35:39 UTC

  138. I can assure you that people who do real editorial do not think of themselves as rock stars.

  139. Agreed. What a poor choice of photos from Getty Images.

  140. And so the Times joins Trump in declaring itself beyond reproach and review.

  141. No, at least not until it gets rid of all comment columns. Like this.
    It's our job to read, think, & comment. I just hope they don't start relying on us to be proof readers. For that I want to be paid.

  142. Your very comment argues against your claim.

    Newspapers have always been within the reproach and review of their readers. Go ahead: stop reading.

    - BVB

  143. Very disappointed that the NYT is removing the Public Editor role. In this political climate, media accountability is critical. The removal of this role also sends a (negative) message to readers and the public generally about the NYT's commitment to quality, unbiased journalism, particularly as it coincides with the announcement that they are reducing their editorial resources.

  144. Unbiased does not preclude the truth, even if you don't like it. Go to a repug rag & read it, are they unbiased (telling the truth no matter which side gets the rotten tomato in the face?) or is it straight repug?
    NYT tells it like it sees it. Takes the necessary time for real investigation (not 2 days then write what will make *45 happy). Doesn't look the other way when the demipoots step in it either. That is what a Newspaper should be. I know it's much easier on the blood pressure to read a paper that always agrees with what you think. Cause then you don't have to do much thinking. But, I get mad at the NYT at least once a day for something I don't agree with. Also for not having enough comment columns. Authors don't like them, tough. We, all of us, no matter what we each believe, are the PUBLIC EDITOR. Not as much back & forth as in smaller city TV or papers. Miss that. One man, his name was curiously mytoocents, who told me to research fascists. That they could be either far right OR far left. I got so mad at him I did. He was right. I learned a lot. Sometimes over my own dead body. My mind isn't shut, but, it doesn't allow others to expect me to be polite when they try to rip me or someone else a new one. But hey I started in Boston.

  145. NYT has almost NEVER been committed to unbiased journalism - for decades that have been solidly on the side of whatever the Democrat Party has told them to be on, with only an occasional foray "off the plantation" as a means to say "See? We are not biased!"

  146. The turnover in the PE position had been dizzying already. It seems the Times wanted to enjoy the credibility of having the a PE or ombudsman office without the attendant criticism or pushback that would inevitably emanate therefrom.

    This reader laments this decision.

  147. Six PEs in 13 1/2 years does not seem outrageous. It would have been six in about 15 years had the Times honored Spayd's employment contract.
    As Spayd's quick descent into Times PR flackery showed, the position is a difficult one. The longer one is in it, the more likely that the PE will become absorbed, like the Borg Collective, on Star Trek, The Next Generation.

  148. The "turnover" was on purpose; the job was term limited.

  149. As a longtime conservative NYT subscriber, this reeks of hypocrisy.

    The Times has forever lamented that the NYPD can't be trusted to police themselves, so they insisted that an independent source monitor the NYPD.

    But when it comes to having a NYT monitor, "who needs that?"

    Do as I say, not as I do.

  150. More likely, your statement reeks of hypocrisy

  151. As long as they paid her, she wasn't independent. As long as your boss pays you, you must do as he says. It's life. If NYPD needed independent eyes on them, it shouldn't be some cop from Toledo hired to be their eyes & ears, that they paid.

  152. I find your reasoning a little strange. As an employee of the NYT, isn't the Public Editor, in effect, a form of "self-policing"? In what way is the PE an "independent source"? Actually, those commenting on social media and elsewhere on the internet are far more independent than is someone whose pay comes directly from the NYT.

    Getting rid of the PE position may not be a good idea, but it's not because the paper is losing an "independent source" of review.

  153. Thank you, Liz, for a job well-done. Your parting column leaves a lot between the lines, but it's message is still clear. This "newspaper" has gone off the deep end in its partisan crusade, and there doesn't seem to be any likelihood of it abating. In the end, their cutting you loose doesn't really matter as far as its impact on NYT content. Don't take this the wrong way, but as wise as your observations often were, they didn't do anything to change the rabid dogma of the reporters and editors. Ultimately, the position of Public Editor never amounted to much more than a thorn in the content producers' sides – an embarrassment, really. Which is why the decision-makers decided the position is no longer needed. Of course, those of us who read this newspaper from a different viewpoint found immense satisfaction in your columns when you chose to call-out the hyper-partisanship. And to be honest, you could have gone a whole lot farther than you did. But that's all we got – satisfaction. The trivial bit of transparency you provided did not curb the aggression. In fact, it's only gotten worse. This newspaper has committed itself to destroying the elected President. What a shock it will be when they come to realize their impact is the opposite of what they intended. Or not. More likely they won't realize anything, deny any responsibility, blame someone else, and then intensify their partisan assault. Oh, well. It's not like you didn't try to warn them. Best of luck to you.

  154. "... those of us who read this newspaper from a different viewpoint found immense satisfaction in your columns when you chose to call-out the hyper-partisanship." Frankly, I'd read the Public Editor's column for sheer relief - and a breath of fresh air - from the unrelenting elitism on the Times's embedded staff bias.

  155. Not partisan. Just not your beliefs. So, you must hate it, your lord & master says so.
    It has a view. As it is supposed to. It has columnists who don't tow the demipoot line, or the repug either. Gee, that makes you so wrong, you need to go jump off Trump Tower, just like your ancestors did on Black Friday when them market crashed. Don't worry about the jump, it is fine. It's the sudden stop at the bottom that hurts. But, you won't notice, you'll be reading the headlines on some rag in the trash barrel.

  156. All the verbiage, and you think she even is going to get paid to read your nice statement whatever it said?

  157. Good riddance. Your worship of false equivalency, your pandering to the slow coup taking place in our institutions and your self-serving comments here, more than justifies your departure, regardless of the Times' true motivations in cutting your position.

  158. Really? Are ad hominem attacks necessary or helpful?

  159. I couldn't disagree more, but then I suspect you don't cotton to disagreements.

  160. C'mon. It's a naked lie that the position of Public Editor is being eliminated for economy. Sometimes the Times makes it difficult for its readers to defend it.

  161. Liz Spayd never stuck me as an advocate for subscribers.
    Maybe someone can help me out and explain what she's accomplished in the way of making the paper more responsive to its readers.
    If the Times truly cared about the opinions of its readers, they need to look no further than the Comments Sections.

  162. I guess they might even publish a few more.

  163. People wrote to her with complaints. She tried to find answers to them, if not solutions. She wasn't there for 'subscribers', just for anyone who wrote her. She wasn't supposed to find problems herself, & try to get them fixed. Nope, just those who took the time to write her. A salary for that can begin to seem out of place in tight economic times. Her job was more wasn't than was. Which is very hard to do. No paper has to bow down to it's readership. No good paper ever has. I grew up with 3 daily papers coming into the house during the week & 2 on Sundays. Different views, when I asked my father, he said every paper was supposed to have it's own view. That it was what the Founding Fathers wanted. England's papers at the time only had one view, the King's. In fact the country was supposed to have only one view, the King's & he was nuts. So, independent papers, the only 'mass' media of the day, were important. Then came radio, then TV, then 'oh sh*t cable. Rules said radio & TV had to be 'fair', take all sides. Mainly because everyone thought the everyday folks couldn't understand the 'sides', fights, & arguments, they just needed news. Cable decided, everyone needed to be told what to do. Faux news did it best, so is still around. TV tries still to be everything for everyone. Papers are still supposed to be independent of parties, & follow their own reasoning. Don't like it, switch papers. Or do like Dad did. Read them all. So did I. Sorry position isn't needed. Good luck Liz

  164. The comments section is nothing but a college bull session among narcissists who have a need to see their pseudonyms in the NYT and to count the number of "recommend"s.
    With over two million subscribers, a few hundred oh-so-intellectual commentors--statistically--are of no import.
    Boo-hoo...the ship has sailed and left you behind.

  165. Must say I haven't read the Public Editor much since Art Brisbane left.
    An important role, yes. One that is followed and read with any regularity, not so much. Difficult to find on the Opinion page too.
    Thanks for trying it out and putting forward issues that you deemed worthwhile.
    All best to your future job prospects. There is a world beyond the NYT.

  166. Your work, insight, and remarkable talent will be sorely missed. Best wishes for continued career success.

  167. No it won't.

  168. Thanks for a very thoughtful essay. I, too, have been discomfited by the bald partisanship of the New York Times since Trump's nomination. It turned journalism as I knew it on its head. I am as fervent an enemy of Trump's and Bannon's world view as you can find, yet I question the results of our only real national newspaper substituting shrill for measured.

  169. If saying something against that cretin in the WH makes you a democrat then there are millions, tens of millions more democrats that are not registered as such. But, repugs have to hate. They only know how to hate democrats. So, everyone who says Voldemort is a cretinmust be a democrat. So, repugs are stupid, knew that. See I have never belonged to any political party. I grew up in a Republicanhome.Dad was proud to be a Republican. But, he told me in late '88, not to ever register in any party, not even if an employer tried to make me (it was required of him,but, he was already a republican). To do my own researchinto candidates, never vote a straightticket. He'd told these things to me back before I voted the first time. That odd year we could votenational, but not state. This timehe was more solemn. I have kept my word. I also call them repugs now. My Dad was a REPUBLICAN. Today's are just repugnant. You can easily be against this regime, & not be a democrat (I normally call demipoots). But, repugs can't see that. To them the country is repugs & demipoots, no one else matters. I'm workinghard to irritate them enough that they will see there are more things out here than they ever imagined. I'm willing to go to war of this. To risk my life. To KILL. Not so hard, I wasthe only hawk (they said) in mydove HS (I'm 66). I was just pro servicemen. Still am. Married Navy 45.5 years ago. I will stand up for mycountry, often I think that is what this paper is doing. Not as a demipoot

  170. I very much agree. Given how hard Trump worked to demonize the press, it's not surprising that the temptation of payback is so great, but I am disappointed that the Times gave into it. It makes it easier for the right to dismiss the reasoned, well-researched parts of the articles it publishes on contemporary American politics.

    I find myself wondering if part of its partisan turn is also chagrin and even guilt at the part the press played in getting Trump elected by appearing to give him legitimacy through extensive coverage of his early campaign. If the Times and the other major mainstream media had largely ignored him as the irrelevancy he should have been, he might not be president today.

    Trump deeply antagonized 2 major modern institutions: the press and the intelligence service. Whether he didn't realize they have the power to retaliate or thought he could overpower them is irrelevant, but now it appears that neither will rest until they have taken him down. Mistake me not, this is, in itself, a laudable goal, but if the final cost is public lost of trust in both institutions, he will have won after all.

  171. Very curious what you would consider "measured". And also wondering just how "measured" one should be in the face of a clear and present danger.

  172. the Times is so partisan it reeks. It takes Carlos Slim money, writes lefty eds and biased reporting. I would say firing the public editor lowers its credibility, but it didn't have any for years.

  173. And if the Times started publishing OpEds copied from the WSJournal, Ralphy, you'd be pleased.
    Sorry, Ralph, it just depends on whose ox is being gored.

  174. And would you rather they were funded by the same nuts who fund Fox, etc?

  175. Then why do you read it?

  176. "Having the role was a sign of institutional integrity, and losing it sends an ambiguous signal: Is the leadership growing weary of such advice or simply searching for a new model? We’ll find out soon enough."

    They've never more than barely tolerated such advice, and were eagerly looking forward to the day they could dispense with it entirely. They created that future day, and not by accident, at the very moment they hired their last PE.

    This absurd PR blurb from the publisher presages the type of unanswered nonsense that will be sent out whenever the paper's representatives feel pressured to explain themselves in the future:

    “Our followers on social media and our readers across the internet have come together to collectively serve as a modern watchdog, more vigilant and forceful than one person could ever be. Our responsibility is to empower all of those watchdogs, and to listen to them, rather than to channel their voice through a single office.”

    He knows full well that public grousing about a mistake or bad policy isn't the same as holding someone responsible for it, much less having it corrected or having policy changed so it isn't repeated.

    Congratulations Messrs. S. & B., The Times is accountable to no one once again.

  177. Yes. The NYT could use a Public Editor in the worst way. Not Liz Spayd, unfortunately, who interpreted this function too narrowly and did not hold the NYT's feet to the fire anywhere near enough, but a more rigorous and penetrating critic. The NYT's apologia for removing the position entirely indicates how contemptuous they are of their readership's acumen, and perhaps makes clearer the attitude leading to the decline in in-depth journalism we see in the NYT today.

  178. They statement is an explicit admission that they do not want to p! s off the people to whom they are most indebted for responding to their revenue-generating click bait.

    The Washington Post at least allows open and free debate amongst it commenters for 14 days after something is published. The NYT, in contrast, controls very judiciously what comments get published, and then with many that they do not like so much, wait to publish after the comments section is closed - usually within 24 hours of the article publication. A sure sign that they want to thoroughly control what "truths" their readers are exposed to.

  179. Another step, it seems, in the progression away from journalism toward "content creation". Not only is the public editor being eliminated, so are a raft of copy editors. By replacing journalistic inquiry and responsibility for standards with a commenting public, the times showings so many other Internet websites in being a place for opinion making and gossip, however much more polished it may seem.

  180. And so it seems.

  181. polished to whom? the answer is to the choir of the Left which predominates the NYT readership.

  182. Time to put the NYT's newsroom's responsibility to the public squarely in the laps of those at the top of the masthead, where it belongs. Ideally that is what this move should do. I don't mean to imply that the leadership has not been trying to do their best all along, just that it has been my experience in business and in local politics that people outside the chain of command don't usually have much power to actually affect the basic workings of an organization.

  183. Just say it woman! If the shot callers at NYT don't like people holding their mirror for them then they should quit appeasing the nags by hiring editors to hold up mirrors

  184. The Times needs a public editor now just as much as when the job was invented. The PE job served two equally important functions.

    First it allowed readers to vent, via comments like this. That need not be missed because we can still do so, though there should now be a dedicated site for issues with the paper rather than comments directed to a specific column.

    The absence of the second function, as a vehicle for formal complaints, is more bothersome. It seems as if the Times is setting out to be as responsive to legitimate complaints as trump is over his tax returns.

  185. As a 50+ year reader of the NYT no one has to tell me the paper has changed. Sure the industry has undergone fundamental realignment but the NYT has done something else. It has identified itself with one ideology and bends itself into pretzel shapes to accommodate those views, e.g. the filibuster. The public editor at least provided some balance on certain issues. Probably for financial reasons but also ideological the PE had to go. No room here for dissenting views. Too bad. The NYT was a great paper but now it is merely a mouthpiece for the progressive wing of the Democratic party and the monied elites that support it.

  186. " The NYT was a great paper but now it is merely a mouthpiece for the progressive wing of the Democratic party and the monied elites that support it."


    The progressive wing of the Democratic party ... it has none. None. None.

    And the monied interests that support it???

  187. Bill
    It should be noted that if the paper were to be a conservative leaning source of news, your comment would not appear on this article and you would be a happy camper.

    And isn't that the way that things are in today's climate? I live in a city in a very conservative state. Fascinating to read comments critical of the DMN as being liberal in its coverage. Then, newer folks move to the state from liberal leaning areas, and blast the paper for conservative bias...

  188. Oh please. Enough with the thumping and whining. The NYT is not "merely" anything. It is certainly not a "mouthpiece" for progressives or even for the Democratic party overall. If it were, it would have been much more critical, much earlier, of Trump and the gutless Republican politicians who support him. Instead it did what most "lamestream" media did which was to give him a huge amount of free press coverage and to repeatedly give him a pass on his lies, insults and bigotry.

    So enough with the whining, please.

  189. The removal of the Public Editor is a sad day for the NYT and its readers. They gave balance and conscience to its reporting and editorial choices. The value of the Times will be lowered.

  190. Good riddance. Spayd was the worst ever public editor.

  191. The NYT's has morphed from a national treasure to the lead publication of the Trump resistance and click bait TMZ quality articles.

    Trump is, sadly, right that you are the failing NYT's.

  192. Ms. Spayd,
    Thanks for doing a good job. One of your memorable columns was when you held the Times accountable for their lack of diversity in their higher ranks
    I wonder... if there is any link between your holding their feet to the fire and your being let go...

  193. Fare thee well, Ms. Spayd. I think your work was important. I understand management's argument that reader reaction helps keep the NY Times accurate.

    What I think will be missing will be accountability. Having edited a news and opinion website with considerable user input, yes, that happens, along with a lot of drivel and drama that is uncalled for. And no one bears much responsibility for what they write.

    As an institution, the public editor's role at the NY Times did send a message of accountability to the readers and various publics it covers and serves that was backed by a real person, not simply bland assurances everyone is doing their best.
    Thank you.

  194. One more nail in the NYT coffin
    RIP Public Editor
    Truth is dead

  195. Liz Spayd viewed the NYT, which uniformly excoriates Bernie Sanders and worships Clinton and Obama, as a left-leaning paper.

    With that kind of cluelessness, we are better off with no public editor.

  196. "In this job, I started to know which columns would land like a grenade, and I’m glad to have stirred things up. I’ll wear it like a badge." Bravo. It cannot have been easy. The New York Times is but another self-interested corporate entity. Letting the Public Editor go is in the predictable tradition of protecting one's own self-interest while criticizing those who protect theirs. Thank you for your efforts as one of the last vestiges of integrity at the Times.

  197. I have been a Times subscriber for 30 years, and I can say unequivocally that the paper made a huge mistake by eliminating the public editor position. At this moment in U.S. history, when an independent press and our First Amendment rights play, perhaps, a more important role than ever before in holding our government accountable, the press needs independent watchdogs. The Times, by eliminating the public editor position, is playing into the hands of its critics. If anything, The Times should have multiple public editors, routinely fact checking and critiquing the paper. That would show critics it is willing to have it own work scrutinized, at the risk of sometimes looking bad. We are all fallible. Acknowledging fallibility would go a long way to showing supporters and critics that you are serious about upholding the highest standards. In this world of crisis and scandal, domestically and internationally, The Times would have been wise to double down on the public editor position, not eliminate it.

  198. My beloved Times: Keep editorials off the front page, and your head up, and you'll be fine. And just to be safe, only fire people by eliminating their positions, the way industry does it.

  199. Thank you, NYT, for axing the public editor. Stories those in authority tell the public need to be swallowed whole, without reflection and with the least oversight possible. Sad!

  200. Relieved to see the PE position eliminated, but not because the PEs haven't done a fantastic job. But because the accompanying comments here have been beating up on the PE, that too with increasing frequency. Disturbing to witness, even more disturbing becoming unwilling accessory just reading them.

    My expectation from the PE, as I believe the NYT's was too, was that the PE gave outlet to airing reader frustrations. Not serve as ready punching bag, which is what many readers here converted It to. And in the process destroyed the role.

    So thank you Mr. Sulzberger, for killing this thankless tribal ritual of a PE doing her job and getting pummeled from all sides for it. I, for one don't need it. At the end of the day, my subscription is for news and opinion to help form my own. And when that formed opinion is diametrically opposite the paper's, have enough access to sound-off. Which I do, PE or no PE. Occasionally it gets squelched, most other times it breezes through, and ever so rarely it gets highlighted with pick. All in all, the system of public editorializing at NYT works pretty fantastically good.

    Goodbye Ms. Spayd, thank you for your work here & best wishes your next position. Rest assured, The Times acted not just in your best interest, but also in the interest of discerning readers at large. Yes, theirs too, the thought of three ex-PEs filing a harassment suit probably kept Arthur awake at night, and for good reason. He better write you a big check.

  201. Who will BE the watchdog.....

  202. Dear Ms Spayd

    I greatly enjoyed reading your columns and I am sure your very existence had a positive effect on the reporting in The NY Times. I am a retired public company auditor and I always believed that my existence prevented many errors because client officials assumed I would find them. I am sure you played a similar role at the Times. That role will be sorely missed.

    You have much to be proud of and your readers have appreciated your contributions

    I wish you well in your future endeavors


  203. Ms Spayd, you did such a miserable job as public editor that it's no surprise that The Times dumped you. You were universally criticized, by readers, by reporters, and by the journalism community as a whole. What is so much to be regretted, however, is that your actions were so deeply resented, and your columns so infuriating to so many people, that The Times eliminated the entire position.

    No, Ms Spayd, do not wear your actions in this job as a "badge." You did not hold Times management accountable, as you were supposed to. Instead, time after time, you shilled for management, rubber-stamping every editor's explanation, no matter how absurd. And you refused to do your job of representing readers, revealing recently that you didn't even bother to read emails addressed to you, but only deigning to read those few which your assistant put in front of you.

    In the end, you make clear that your one objective is to defend Trump and Trump voters, and to dismiss any and all critical reporting on Trump as "partisan."

    Though the loss of the public editor position will be rued, Ms Spayd, your departure will not.

    Good riddance.

  204. The elimination of this position is a tragedy.
    I had been advocating for NYTimes, giving folks the wherewithal for subscriptions ... I am SHOCKED.

  205. I didn't always agree w/ you, but I felt (& feel) your job is imperative to the integrity & critical analysis of an independent newspaper. I was devastated when I learned the NYTimes as ending this position. I fear, what'll be next?!

    Interesting too, during the campaign & since Trump's election, the Times has been my last go-to newspaper of all the major sources. I felt - and still feel - they fall too easily & fast for the conventional narrative, clickbait & are easily drawn into Trump's games. E.g. right now, Bannon is "back." I never thought he went away. In fact, I suspected he was working under the cover of the popular (& important) themes of the Russian involvement, etc. A newspaper needs a Public Editor to keep them on their toes, to make sure they're not falling for just the PR of an administration or congress, and to make sure they're seeing the larger, more complex & intertwined stories (the Judith Miller debacle comes to mind).

    Best wishes to for the Times, well, feels like another misguided decision...

  206. A fine swan song. You will be missed, Ms. Spayd, and your office will be missed.

    President Trump dispensed with Mr. Comey, and the Times closed the office of Public Editor. Two extraordinarily powerful institutions shielding themselves from oversight. Not much difference. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes indeed.

    The Times has truly done major harm to its credibility, damage that will likely be long lasting. The paper's liberal base may not be overly upset; many of these folks seem to believe that the Times is first published on divinely sanctioned stone tablets. This is of course not the case; as with all human institutions, the Times makes errors of judgment and of fact, and is - make that was - strengthened by a watchful eye. The Times has clearly not heeded the lessons of the recent election.

    Ms. Spayd, I have enjoyed your columns, and think you did a good job. I've read that some others do not agree (including Mr. Baquet); in the eyes of some you committed the high crimes of listening to readers and doing your job. Good luck to you as you pursue the many options that I'm sure will be available to you.

    The position of public editor at the Times was created in response to one of the most damning instances of fraudulent reporting in modern journalism. It is not the only one to have occurred at the Times, the Kitty Genovese stories, and more recently the Times' articles on Iraq's WMD come to mind.

    The Times, influential and imperfect as it is, needs a public editor.

  207. I miss Margaret Sullivan, and I regret that the Times is eliminating the Public Editor's position. Yes, there are many channels in the online world for the Times to receive comments on articles and on its coverage. When done well, though, the public editor allows readers to see a dialogue with other editors and reporters. That will be missed.

  208. It is a mistake for the Time to eliminate the position of Public Editor. Having such a position and having Public Editors that were willing to raise and explore issues of ethics, propriety and competency, all enhanced the credibility of the Times as an institution.

    When the Times calls for government organisations to have an inspector general or for some arm of government to make a special investigation, will the Times accept the excuse that the public interest is being adequately protected by internet blogs and reader comments?

    As to reader comments, who makes the decision as to when comments to an article will be enabled and who makes the decision as to when comments will be closed. Also, who makes the decisions as to who the trusted commenters are and that the time posted with a comment is the time it is moderated and not the time the comment is made? Earlier this year, the Times indicated it was going to have a computer make decisions as to comments. Has that come into play? Will you ever post what the standards are to these comment questions? All of this relates to the Times indication that a Public Editor is no longer necessary since readers are now empowered by the internet power to comment.

  209. To Liz: Thank you for you service. While it may be premature to say it, you may have lost your job, in part to AI.

    I’m sorry to see this position eliminated. It’s important. In fact it should be expanded into a role I called the Chief Readership Editor in a LinkedIn post. The replacement is the Reader Center which appears to be a cross functional big-data analytics team that will inform both editorial, marketing and the product teams as the times seeks to move forward in its digital transformation initiatives. These initiatives are necessary, but fraught with peril.

    If this is done right, the Reader Center could perhaps be even more effective than the small office of the public editor in upholding standards of good journalism, but it must, at the very least, provide the same transparency in its work as the public editor. If it’s not done right and research outcomes are weighted too heavily on AI analysis and/or business results, than the Times runs the risk of losing the hearts and minds of readers and the reporting staff.

    I wish Hannah Ingber the best in her role as the leader of Reader Center. Running a start-up within an established business like the Times and with so many interests to juggle will not be easy.

  210. The onus is now on the Times to show its readers and critics how it will replace the Public Editor position with other tools to keep lines of communications with this audience flowing to and from the editorial staff.

    We are watching and waiting.

  211. Liz Spayd always seemed to be more an apologist for the Times than a true voice for the readers. I don't think initially she realized that, as a public editor, her job was to give voice to the readers concerns and collect and present them to the Editorial staff for comment, reflection. It was then her job to take those views and present them concisely back to the readership.

    This should all be informed by her knowledge of journalism not led by her ideas on journalism. Too often, the concerns of readers did not lead the conversation. Too often it seemed like it was just Ms Spayd thoughts.

    More recently, however, I think Ms Spayd had been finding her feet in it.

    Public Editor is a pretty thankless job. But even imperfectly enacted it was far better to have one than not. It did at least force some conversation where online comments are too easy to ignore.

    Dean Banquet is probably overjoyed. I don't think public accountability is his thing. I however am not.

    The position of public editor should have been maintained. It made the Times stronger, less elitist. But then that isn't the Times target audience as stated by Mr Banquet so I shouldn't be surprised.

  212. PE: "Thanks to Eric Nagourney, my copy editor, who saved me many times from fumbling over my own words."

    Not to pick on anyone in particular, but the spelling of "Morell" is inconsistent:

    * "Mike Morell, former acting director of the C.I.A. ..."
    * "... the media assumed that role, Morrell said, ..."

    2017-06-02 19:39:40 UTC

  213. I am deeply disappointed in the NY Times for discontiuing the public editor. It disgusts me, as a subscriber, as much as the symbolic signals President Trump has sent the world disrespecting the Paris Climate accords. Nuts!

  214. Shameful is the best way, to my way of thinking, that the Times has eliminated its Public Editor.

    Airing dirty laundry in public, to paraphrase an chestnut from Justice Brandeis, is the best disinfectant.

    I've been a fan of the Public Editors from the position's inception.

    And I believe Ms. Spayd raised especially pertinent issues.

    I often pondered how those occupying the upper echelons of the newspaper -- all the way up to Mr. Sulzberger -- digested some of the most trenchant critiques.

    As the NY Times proceeds through the uncharted waters -- at times even turbulent -- in the proliferating era of electronic communications the role of its Public Editor proved especially pertinent.

    The Public Editor exercised an essential role on the current field of play -- often turbulent -- by virtue of having access for face-to-face discussions with reporters, editors, and executives.

    Having a readers' forum for airing concerns represents a big step down because what will be missing is the "voice" of the Public Editor.

    Finally, readers will be kept further away from the inside story of the internal decision about the Public Editor.

    I suspect that we'll learn a good deal more about how and why this happened in a matter of hours or days.

    But that insider story line surely will not be found in the New York Times!

  215. For all those disappointed NYT readers who are contemplating running off to the WaPo: keep in mind that it is not the Katherine Graham WaPo of old. It is now the privately owned and unaccountable toy of's Jeff Bezos.

  216. Santayana: "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
    In the late 1990s, the Times hired a young reporter named Jayson Blair. He was a favorite of former Executive Editor Howell Raines. Everybody knew it. Eventually, Blair was filing stories datelined from Maryland while never leaving his Brooklyn apartment, and faking expense reports. Other reporters tried to warn Raines that he was protecting a rogue reporter. Raines didn't want to hear it. Once Blair was exposed as a fraud,
    Raines paid with his job.
    It took time for the Times to examine itself. Its response was to create the Public Editor position. By the time Daniel Omrent was hired and filed his first column, in December of 2003, Judith Miller had already used cover of anonymity to channel Junior Bush administration mendacity in service of flogging the Iraq Invasion. So convincing was Miller, unlike Blair, a veteran reporter, that Miller's "reportage" convinced Tom Friedman, Mo Dowd, and the Times' Editorial Board to support the invasion. It wasn't until Times' war correspondents on the ground, like John F Burns and Dexter Filkins revealed the truth that the Times backtracked, not that Friedman did.
    Miller precipitated a "committee on credibility," resulting in Bill Keller writing "Assuring Our Credibility." Keller aspired to anonymous sourcing as rare, now a laughably quaint conceit.
    Twitter is NOT a PE. What IS the "Reader Center?" How can we access it?
    What blunder will repeat next?

  217. I often imagined the Times would simply rid itself of a Public Editor owing to their incapacity for taking bearings other than those of the hard left. Like the Huffington Post, the Times grows vexed by divergent opinions and grows quite nasty when when those opinions are voiced by the administration or the Republican party in general.