The New York Times Company (NYTC) is an American media company headquartered in New York City. The company’s main product is The New York Times daily newspaper. NYTC was founded in 1851 and its paper was initially referred to as The New-York Daily, the name was changed to The New York Times in 1857.
The founders of NYTC stressed on the company’s mission of being “Conservative, in all cases where we think Conservatism essential to the public good;—and we shall be Radical in everything which may seem to us to require radical treatment and radical reform” (Mott, pp. 621).
The NYTC, through the New York Times, has continued on the founding father’s mission of serving the interests of the citizens while observing corporate ethical behaviors. However, this does not imply that the company has not been involved in unethical conduct, but such instances are so few, especially from a company with such a long and rich history.
Accusations of Ethical Misconduct
While it is true that no company can be absolutely clean of any wrong doing regarding ethical conduct, this fact should not be a leeway to engage in such activity. Since its inception, the NYTC has been mentioned in some high profile cases of misconduct centering on its main product, The New York Times.
For example, a former reporter with the company, Judith Miller, resigned after accusations that her reports prior to the Iraq War plainly supported the Bush administration’s position towards the war. The company was forced to apologize. However, it was found out one of Miller’s main sources of information was Ahmed Chalabi, a senior member of the Iraq government.
The paper has also been accused for years of taking sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Some people have said that the paper is pro-Israel while others maintain that it is pro-Palestine, these accusations have been termed as untrue by the company. The company’s public editor, Clark Hoyt, wrote in 2009 that
Though the most vociferous supporters of Israel and the Palestinians do not agree, I think The New York Times, largely barred from the battlefield and reporting amid the chaos of war, has tried its best to do a fair, balanced and complete job — and has largely succeeded (Hoyt, para. 20).
In May 2003, the newspaper’s reporter, Jayson Blair, was accused of plagiarism and fabrication of news articles. Consequently, he was fired by the company due to non-tolerance of unethical conduct.
In March 2011, the company was criticized for publishing a report on the gang rape of an 11-year-old Hispanic girl by 18 African Americans. The article was said to have carried quotes from persons who sympathized with the girl, and the use of passive that heavily implicated the 18 black men in the offence.
NYTC Policy on Ethics in Journalism
Despite the several accusations leveled against NYTC, the company has a policy on ethical guidelines for all of its employees. The guidelines require that journalists divulge the sources of their news and identify themselves while on duty.
The company informs its staff to be neutral in their news coverage and reporting, embrace fair competition practices, avoid plagiarism, and, generally, “treat our readers, viewers, listeners and online users as fairly and openly as possible” (NYTC, line 17). Any employee who goes against these rules receives discipline measures as is evidenced in Blair’s case.
Even though NYTC has been accused of involving in unethical behavior, most of these accusations are never proven and mostly originate from individuals or groups seeking publicity. NYTC is an ethical company and this has been evidenced over the years; the company has fired numerous errant employees who could not adhere to its policies on ethics, and apologized whenever it was on the wrong.
Hoyt, Clark. Standing Between Enemies. The New York Times, January 2009. Web.
April 5, 2011.
Mott, Frank Luther. American journalism: 1690-1940, Vol. 2. London: Routledge/ Thoemmes Press, 2000.
NYTC (The New York Times Company). The New York Times Company Policy on Ethics in Journalism. 2005. Web. April 5, 2011. < http://www.nytco.com/press/ethics.html >