Wednesday's HOT MIC

Wednesday's HOT MIC

The New York Times is eliminating its Public Editor position, along with dozens of other jobs in a cost cutting effort to keep the Times viable.

The Hill:

The New York Times is eliminating its public editor position, publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. announced in an internal memo Wednesday.

The position will end Friday when current public editor Liz Spayd leaves the paper. Huffington Post first reported the public editor elimination.

The public editor position was created in the wake of 2003 Jayson Blair fabrication scandal to act as an internal, independent watchdog on the Times, as well as an outlet for readers' concerns.

Public editors wrote regular columns critiquing the Times in the paper's op-ed section. But Spayd had been regularly criticized herself since taking over the position in 2016. After Spayd criticized the Times's sports coverage, the sports section took to its official Twitter account to slam her.

In his memo announcing the end of the public editor column, Sulzberger pointed to expanded article commenting and the wide availability of outside media criticism as reasons the Times's oversight duties have "outgrown" the public editor position.

"There is nothing more important to our mission, or our business, than strengthening our connection with our readers. A relationship that fundamental cannot be outsourced to a single intermediary," Sulzberger wrote.

"The responsibility of the public editor — to serve as the reader’s representative — has outgrown that one office. Our business requires that we must all seek to hold ourselves accountable to our readers. When our audience has questions or concerns, whether about current events or our coverage decisions, we must answer them ourselves," the memo continues.

To that end, we have decided to eliminate the position of the public editor, while introducing several new reader-focused efforts."

The Times says it will depend on an expanded commenting platform in the public editor's place.

Spayd and her predecessor, Margaret Sullivan, may not have done a very good job, but at least there was someone at the paper who listened to and acknowledged complaints from conservatives. Now, we must rely on "an expanded commenting platform" (snort).

But did the Public Editor position actually change the biased, slanted, partisan coverage offered by the New York Times? Of course not. So in that respect, it hardly matters that Ms. Spayd is out of a job and that the Times doesn't care about how its coverage is perceived by its readers.

To me, it's just one more indication that probably within my lifetime, traditional newspapers will disappear.