Donald McNeil Jr., Andy Mills Out on the New York Occasions
Long-time science reporter Donald McNeil Jr. and audio journalist Andy Mills, both caught up in separate controversies, have both left The New York Timesit was announced Friday.
The Daily Beast first revealed in late January that McNeil Jr., who joined the Times in the 1970s, allegedly used racist language, including the “N-word” while a 2019 trip with students to Peru. Some students and their parents complained to the Times. The media company told The Daily Beast it was investigating the incident at the time and “disciplined Donald over statements and language that were inappropriate and inconsistent with our values.”
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However, in the days following the release, editor-in-chief Dean Baquet came under pressure from staff to take further action. It did so on Friday when Baquet informed her in a company-wide memo that McNeil Jr. was leaving the company.
“Donald joined The Times in 1976 and has done a lot of good coverage over four decades. However, we believe this is the right next step. We do not tolerate racist language, regardless of its intent. We are committed to producing a news report and company that reflects our core values of integrity and respect and we urgently need to develop clearer guidelines and enforcement measures for behavior in the workplace, including red-line questions about racist language, ”the statement said .
McNeil Jr.’s apology was also shared with staff. Part of it read: “On a school trip to Peru for the New York Times in 2019, a student asked me over dinner if I thought a classmate of hers should have been suspended for a video she made when she was 12 years old had -old by using a racist bow. To understand what was in the video, I asked if she had mentioned the bow to anyone else, or if she was rapping or quoting a book title. In answering the question, I used the bow myself. I shouldn’t have done that. Originally I thought the context in which I used this ugly word could be defended. I now realize that it can’t. It’s deeply offensive and hurtful. The fact that I even thought I could defend it shows extremely poor judgment. “
The story goes on
Mills produced the “Caliphate” podcast about the Islamic State, which was forced to return high profile awards, including a peabody, after it was discovered that its main topic was a scam. Management has been criticized for demoting the main reporter. Rukmini Callimachus on the podcast, but no action against Mills.
Before the podcast was released, The Cut published an article claiming Mills misbehaved towards female employees at Radiolab, including unsolicited back massages on one colleague’s desk and spilling beer on another. According to the article, he was warned by parent company WNYC. The allegations reappeared after the “caliphate” was corrected.
Mills announced on his website on Friday that The Times had resigned.
“Like everyone else, I’ve made mistakes that I wish I could take back. Nine years ago, when I first moved to New York, I regularly attended monthly public radio meetings where I searched for love and eventually earned a reputation for flirting. Eight years ago, I gave a colleague a back massage during a team meeting. Seven years ago I poured a drink on a coworker’s head at a drunken bar party. I look back on these actions with extraordinary regret and embarrassment, ”he said.
He claimed he informed The Times of his warning on Radiolab when he joined in 2016. “They said they appreciated my openness and defended me publicly.”
This is not the only controversy surrounding the fallout of the failure of the “Caliphate”. Michael Barbaro, host of the popular podcast “The Daily”, apologized after a number of reporters said he had contacted them about their coverage of the podcast “Caliphate” to influence their coverage. The Times was also criticized for failing to disclose that Barbaro, who interviewed editor-in-chief Dean Baquet about the implications of the “Caliphate,” was in a relationship with Lisa Tobin, its executive producer.
Metro editor Cliff Levy was promoted to deputy editor-in-chief with oversight of the audio department late last month. The position will be temporary and Levy, who has been in charge of the metro since 2018 and was once the newspaper’s Moscow correspondent, will then take on a wider role.
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