Outgoing NY Times Public Editor: Progressive World View ‘Bleeds Through’ Paper

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In his final column as public editor of The New York Times, Arthur Brisbane accused many at the paper of sharing “political and cultural progressivism.”

This left-leaning worldview, the outgoing ombudsman argues, “virtually bleeds through the fabric of The Times.” Brisbane sees it manifest itself in topics the Times covers, including Occupy Wall Street and gay marriage. Those stories “erupt” in the newspaper “more like causes than news subjects,” Brisbane added.Brisbane’s farewell column is an appeal to the Times to maintain its traditional definition of objective journalism. He believes top editors at the paper “usually succeed” in enforcing fairness and balance. But the “hive on Eighth Avenue,” as he put it, is shaped by a culture of like minds, he contends. It’s a parting shot that the paper’s top editor rejects.

“In our newsroom we are always conscious that the way we view an issue in New York is not necessarily the way it is viewed in the rest of the country or world. I disagree with Mr. Brisbane’s sweeping conclusions,” Executive Editor Jill Abramson told Politico’s Dylan Byers. She did admit that the paper reflects its hometown’s urban and cosmopolitan base.

Brisbane also reflected on the changing technological space in which the Times publishes today. The content is “flung willy-nilly into the ether,” Bribane writes — tweets are tweeted, Facebook updates are posted — creating an “oddly disaggregated” product. Because of this diffuse readership, it’s important for the Times to publish its standards more prominently online,” he wrote.

Former Buffalo News Editor Margaret Sullivan will take over for Brisbane on Sept. 1. Read Brisbane’s farewell column here.

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David Taintor is a news editor at Talking Points Memo. Previously, he worked at NBC News and Adweek. He’s a native of Minnesota. Reach him at taintor@talkingpointsmemo.com.

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