New York Times’ top editor may speak out more on journalism

Apr 28, 2022, 11:15 PM | Updated: Apr 29, 2022, 11:59 am
Joe Kahn poses for a photo, Sunday, April 17, 2022 in New York. The New York Times has named  Kahn ...

Joe Kahn poses for a photo, Sunday, April 17, 2022 in New York. The New York Times has named Kahn as its new executive editor, replacing Dean Baquet as leader of the storied paper's newsroom. The Times said Kahn, who has been managing editor at the the paper since 2016, will assume his new role effective June 14. Baquet will remain at The Times but in a new position, the paper said in a news release Tuesday, April 19 .(Celeste Sloman/The New York Times via AP)

(Celeste Sloman/The New York Times via AP)

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Times has a tradition of letting its work speak for itself, rather than publicly defending its journalism from criticism.

Yet with democracy, truth, and the news business under attack, that’s a luxury The Times’ incoming executive editor, Joe Kahn, may not be able to afford. Kahn, a managing editor for the past five years, succeeds Dean Baquet on June 14, inheriting the most high-profile job in journalism.

The deliberate, soft-spoken Kahn said he’s been thinking about whether The Times’ reluctance to speak about its work is still the best approach at a time when people take sides about journalism brands like they do about politics. How Kahn will tackle things differently from his predecessors remains to be seen, but he is open to trying.

“I’m not sure there’s a perfect answer to it,” said Kahn, who believes efforts to communicate with readers could be improved. He added: “Being able to narrate that to some degree, and bring a broader audience into the investment we’re making in quality journalism, I do think (that) is an important part of the job.”

News organizations sometimes let marketing teams do the talking, with ad campaigns highlighting their work and why it is done, as CNN did when former President Donald Trump labeled them “fake news.” Former Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron famously said that the Post was not at war with the Trump administration, “we’re at work.”

That may not be good enough anymore, said Kyle Pope, editor in chief and publisher of the Columbia Journalism Review.

“Journalists for a long time have taken it as a given that the country and its leaders understood the role they play in a functioning democracy,” Pope said. “We’re at a moment now where you can’t take that for granted.”

Targeting The Times for criticism has long been a rite of passage for many conservatives. More recently, liberals have stepped up their criticism, most notably by demanding the newspaper more aggressively call out what they see as Republican efforts to subvert democracy,

Kahn said he wants The Times to be dogged in covering voter access, the certification of elections and increased political violence. Reporters and editors dedicated to the topic need to be persistent about focusing attention on the problems, similar to how The Times tracked the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.

“We can cover these issues really well and assertively without turning ourselves into a partisan news organization,” he said.

The Times can point to examples where it has led the way. This past week, Times reporters broke the news of House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy saying he planned to urge Trump to resign following the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol insurrection. In June, The Times’ painstaking “Day of Rage” video outlined clearly what happened that day.

Still, some critics on the left believe it too often treats efforts to change voter access laws as a typical political fight when the meaning is much deeper.

“Reporting more aggressively, accurately and clearly about threats to democracy is not asking them to become a partisan organization,” said Dan Froomkin, editor of the Press Watch media criticism site.

The Post announced in February that it would hire two editors and three reporters to staff a new democracy team to cover these issues, and The Associated Press said last week it would add a new democracy editor to its political staff.

On a sometimes related topic — disinformation — Kahn said The Times plans further investment. That was illustrated recently when satellite imagery from Ukraine was used to refute Russian propaganda that civilian killings were staged.

The Times is also writing stories specifically designed to show up in Internet searches when people want to learn the truth about false stories that spread online, like quack COVID treatments.

“If you’re partisan and want to live in your own information silo, it’s really hard to break through to that,” Kahn said. “But if you are, in my view, like the vast majority of people who hear things and may not believe them, we’ll be there to help guide you in those moments.”

One trait Kahn has that is not always common in top media executives is that he’s open to listening to criticism, wrote Margaret Sullivan, the Post’s media columnist. From 2012 to 2016, she was public editor at The Times, where her job was often to convey reader complaints to editors.

The Times discontinued that role in 2017. Although Sullivan doesn’t expect that decision to be revisited — and Kahn pointed out that’s the publisher’s decision, not his — she said in an interview that “the thing that’s missing is a steady sense of The Times hearing outside voices, outside critics, and responding in real time on a regular basis.”

Baquet has tended to respond to individual issues that come up through media interviews.

The Times’ decision to appoint an insider as executive editor is typical, but does contrast with the Post choosing AP’s Sally Buzbee and Los Angeles Times picking Kevin Merida from ESPN as leaders over the past two years. Part of the reason they went with outsiders, “if I’m being honest, is that they’re trying to catch up with us,” Kahn said.

In announcing Kahn’s elevation, Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger said it was an affirmation of the Times’ direction under Baquet, who had Kahn as his top lieutenant for five years.

The Times has grown from under a million digital subscriptions to nearly 10 million under Baquet. Its footprint has widened, encompassing a popular podcast, “The Daily,” the Wirecutter product recommendation service, newsletters and a documentary unit that made “Controlling Britney Spears.” Not everything has gone smoothly — The Times painfully concluded its 2018 podcast “Caliphate” did not meet journalistic standards — but it has been a remarkable transformation.

Neither The Times, nor he, believes in standing still.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


A currency trader walks near the screen showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) at a ...
Associated Press

Asian shares mostly decline echoing US slide on rate worries

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were mostly lower Monday, reflecting pessimism over weakness on Wall Street as the squeeze by central banks around the world to curb inflation weighs on investor sentiment. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 dropped 2.1% in morning trading to 26,587.08. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 dipped 1.3% to 6,489.80. South Korea’s Kospi dropped 2.4% […]
21 hours ago
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern arrives with her husband Clarke Gayford and daughter Neve...
Associated Press

New Zealand marks queen’s death with holiday, church service

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand on Monday marked the death of Queen Elizabeth II with a public holiday, a moment of silence and an official memorial service. The South Pacific nation is among 14 outside of the United Kingdom that continue to recognize the British monarch as their symbolic head of state. New […]
21 hours ago
U.S. aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan leaves from a port in Busan, South Korea, Monday, Sept. 26,...
Associated Press

US carrier, S. Korea ships launch drills amid North’s threat

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A U.S. aircraft carrier and its battle group launched drills with South Korean warships off the Korean Peninsula’s east coast on Monday in their first such training in five years, a day after North Korea test-fired a short-range ballistic missile in a possible response to the exercise. North Korea could […]
21 hours ago
Rains start to pour as Typhoon Noru approaches Manila, Philippines, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022. The pow...
Associated Press

Powerful typhoon leaves 5 rescuers dead in north Philippines

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Typhoon Noru blew out of the northern Philippines on Monday, leaving five rescuers dead, causing floods and power outages and forcing officials to suspend classes and government work in the capital and outlying provinces. The most powerful typhoon to hit the country this year slammed into the coast in Burdeos town […]
21 hours ago
FILE - Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai, left, and Japanese Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka toast each other...
Associated Press

Japanese leader’s trip to China in ’72 was diplomatic gamble

TOKYO (AP) — The Japanese leader who normalized relations with China 50 years ago feared for his life when he flew to Beijing for the high-stakes negotiations at the height of the Cold War, according to his daughter, a former Japanese foreign minister. Kakuei Tanaka’s mission to normalize relations with China just two months after […]
21 hours ago
FILE - Tesla and SpaceX Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk speaks at the SATELLITE Conference and Ex...
Associated Press

Musk faces deposition with Twitter ahead of October trial

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Tesla CEO Elon Musk is scheduled to spend the next few days with lawyers for Twitter, answering questions ahead of an October trial that will determine whether he must carry through with his $44 billion agreement to acquire the social platform after attempting to back out of the deal. The deposition, […]
21 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
New York Times’ top editor may speak out more on journalism