Leadership at the New York Times sent an office-wide email Wednesday promising “concrete actions” in response to the controversy surrounding Donald McNeil Jr.
The health and science reporter has been accused of saying the N-word and other offensive remarks on a company-sponsored student trip to Peru in 2019.
The email — from Times publisher Arthur Gregg Sulzberger, editor Dean Baquet and CEO Meredith Kopit Levien — came after dozens of staffers reportedly sent a letter to Sulzberger, expressing “pain and concern” over the company’s handling of the accusations.
“In often raw and searching conversations over the last several days with hundreds of people on our staff … we have made clear that we are determined to learn the right lessons from this incident and take concrete actions to improve our workplace culture, ensure the integrity of our journalism, and examine the way we manage behavioral problems among members of the staff,” the email, which was obtained by The Post, said.
“We are determined to create clearer guidelines and enforcement about conduct in the workplace, including red-line issues on racist language,” it continued.
In their Wednesday letter to the publisher, more than 150 Times staffers called for a further probe of the allegations against McNeil and an apology from the star scribe to the students, their parents, tour staffers and his Times colleagues, according to the Daily Beast.
The staffers said they felt “disrespected” by McNeil’s actions and “deeply disturbed” by how the Times handled the complaints, the outlet reported.
“Despite The Times’s seeming commitment to diversity and inclusion, we have given a prominent platform—a critical beat covering a pandemic disproportionately affecting people of color—to someone who chose to use language that is offensive and unacceptable by any newsroom’s standards,” the letter reportedly read. “He did so while acting as a representative for The Times, in front of high school students.”
In his response, Sulzberger said “personnel issues” are not resolved overnight. They “often involve legal and union protections and other considerations that take time to work through,” he noted.