More than 150 New York Times staffers write letter to bosses revealing new allegations of 'bias against people of color' by top reporter who 'used the N-word and said white privilege does not exist' as they demand fresh investigation

 New York Times bosses have vowed to 'improve our workplace culture' after more than 150 staffers wrote a letter saying they were 'outraged' that a prominent reporter who allegedly used the N-word has not been fired.

Three top bosses - Executive Editor Dean Baquet, Publisher A.G. Sulzberger and CEO Meredith Kopit Levien - were on Wednesday forced to defend the paper's handling of complaints made against star COVID-19 journalist Donald McNeil Jr. 

The execs assured rattled staff they 'largely agree' with their concerns and promised they will see 'results' over how the company handles issues.  

This came after a group of employees signed a letter to the executive leadership Wednesday saying they were 'deeply disturbed' by the paper's lack of action and demanding a full investigation into 'newly surfaced complaints' against the veteran journalist.  

Last week, it emerged that multiple students and parents had lodged complaints against McNeil back in 2019 after he allegedly used the N-word, said white privilege does not exist and made disparaging comments about black people during a company-sponsored school trip. 


The Times said it conducted an investigation and decided not to fire him because they believed he showed 'poor judgment' but did not use the words with 'hateful or malicious' intent.

The subsequent backlash against the paper comes after it took a more heavy-handed approach to disciplining one of its other employees, when it fired an editor last month following a tweet about Joe Biden's inauguration. 

The top managers sought to address the escalating tensions at the paper in an email to staff late Wednesday, writing that they 'largely agree' with staff opinion. 

Baquet, Sulzberger and Levien told staff they had been discussing their concerns and promised to 'examine the way we manage behavioral problems among members of the staff'. 

Three top bosses - Executive Editor Dean Baquet, Publisher A.G. Sulzberger and CEO Meredith Kopit Levien - were on Wednesday forced to defend the paper's handling of complaints made against star COVID-19 journalist McNeil

Three top bosses - Executive Editor Dean Baquet, Publisher A.G. Sulzberger and CEO Meredith Kopit Levien - were on Wednesday forced to defend the paper's handling of complaints made against star COVID-19 journalist McNeil

'Every member of our leadership team has been seized with the urgency of addressing the problems raised in the letter,' read the email, seen by The Washington Post.

The execs said they planned to 'take concrete actions to improve our workplace culture' and were determined to 'learn the right lessons from this incident.'  

'You will see results,' they promised.   

While they said they 'understand that when a distressing incident like this arises, people do not want to hear calls to 'be patient,' they emphasised that issues involving 'legal and union protections' can take time. 


'We ourselves are impatient,' the bosses wrote, adding that: 'The three of us have no higher priority than getting this right.' 

The email came in response to a letter sent to the execs by a group of over 150 staffers Wednesday both slamming their handling of the scandal and calling for a full investigation and an apology from McNeil, reported the Daily Beast.  

'Our community is outraged and in pain,' the employees wrote adding that, as McNeil's colleagues, they 'feel disrespected by his actions.'  

Employees called on the Times to fully investigate both the 2019 trip as well 'any newly surfaced complaints' that have arisen in the days since the incident came to light.

Executive Editor Dean Baquet. The execs assured rattled staff they 'largely agree' with their concerns and promised they will see 'results' over how the company handles issues

Executive Editor Dean Baquet. The execs assured rattled staff they 'largely agree' with their concerns and promised they will see 'results' over how the company handles issues

They wrote that a number of current and former colleagues have since come forward to complain of 'bias against people of color in [McNeil's] work and in interactions with colleagues over a period of years'. 

The nature of these complaints is not known.  

As well as hitting out at McNeil, the staff members also took aim at their employer writing that they were 'deeply disturbed' by the paper's handling of the allegations and demanding a probe into how it was initial dealt with.  

The letter hit out at the paper for its 'seeming commitment to diversity and inclusion, [while they had] 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.

'He did so while acting as a representative for The Times, in front of high school students.' 

McNeil fast became one of the Times's top reporters covering the pandemic less than six months after the trip when he is accused of making offensive and racist comments.  

'The company has a responsibility to take that experience seriously,' the staffers wrote.   

'[Company guidelines] make clear that what matters is how an act makes the victims feel; [McNeil's] victims weren't shy about decrying his conduct on the trip,' the letter read. 

Staff members demanded McNeil apologize to the students and parents who attended the tour in question, tour staffers, as well as his colleagues. 

A group of employees signed a letter to the executive leadership Wednesday saying they were 'deeply disturbed' by the paper's lack of action and demanding a full investigation into 'newly surfaced complaints' against veteran journalist McNeil (above)

A group of employees signed a letter to the executive leadership Wednesday saying they were 'deeply disturbed' by the paper's lack of action and demanding a full investigation into 'newly surfaced complaints' against veteran journalist McNeil (above) 

McNeil, a 45-year veteran of the paper, was accused of using the racial slur and making racist and derogatory comments while on a Times-branded student trip to Peru in 2019.   

At least 26 students took part in the $5,000-a-head Times 'Student Journey' that focused on community-based health care in the country with McNeil selected by the Times to help lead the trip as an expert journalist.  

At least six students or their parents complained after the trip that McNeil used racially insensitive or racist language, the Daily Beast first reported. 

Two students said he used the N-word and said he didn't believe white privilege exists while three others claimed he made racist remarks and stereotypical comments about black teens.  

'I expect immediate action on the actions taken by Donald, I am deeply disappointed about the New York Times because of the comments he made during our trip. I think firing him would even be appropriate,' one traveler complained after the trip. 

'Not only did Donald say various racist comments on numerous occasions, but he was also disrespectful to many students during mealtimes and in other settings,' another stated in their review.

'I would change the journalist. He was a racist,' a third person wrote. 

'He used the 'N' word, said horrible things about black teenagers, and said white supremacy doesn't exist.' 

'He made students in the program feel uncomfortable with his remarks. I was really disappointed after hearing great things about his work,' added a fourth participant.  

The Times confirmed last week it had investigated McNeil over the allegations and that he had been 'disciplined.'

'In 2019, Donald McNeil, Jr. participated in a Student Journeys as an expert. We subsequently became aware of complaints by some of the students on the trip concerning certain statements Donald had made during the trip,' the Times said.

'We conducted a thorough investigation and disciplined Donald for statements and language that had been inappropriate and inconsistent with our values. 

'We found he had used bad judgment by repeating a racist slur in the context of a conversation about racist language. In addition, we apologized to the students who had participated in the trip.' 

It is not clear how McNeil was disciplined. 

Executive editor Dean Baquet also sent an email to staff last Thursday saying an investigation into the incident found McNeil's intentions were not 'hateful or malicious' and that the reporter should be 'given another chance.'  

'When I first heard the story, I was outraged and expected I would fire him. I authorized an investigation and concluded his remarks were offensive and that he showed extremely poor judgment, but that it did not appear to me that his intentions were hateful or malicious,' Baquet wrote. 

The subsequent backlash against the paper comes after it took a more heavy-handed approach to disciplining one of its other employees, when it fired editor Lauren Wolfe (above) last month following a tweet about Joe Biden's inauguration

The subsequent backlash against the paper comes after it took a more heavy-handed approach to disciplining one of its other employees, when it fired editor Lauren Wolfe (above) last month following a tweet about Joe Biden's inauguration

Lauren Wolfe was axed after tweeting: 'Biden landing at Joint Base Andrews now. I have chills'

Lauren Wolfe was axed after tweeting: 'Biden landing at Joint Base Andrews now. I have chills'

'I believe that in such cases people should be told they were wrong and given another chance. He was formally disciplined. He was not given a pass.' 

Baquet and assistant managing editor Carolyn Ryan also met with Times journalists on Friday to speak about their concerns, the Beast reported.  

McNeil, whose writing on the coronavirus pandemic over the last year has been submitted for a Pulitzer prize, has not published any work on the Times since before the Beast story broke on January 28. 

The backlash over the Times's handling of the incident comes after the paper divided opinion over its disciplinary action against another staff member. 

The week before the allegations surfaced against McNeil, it emerged the Times had ended the contract of editor Lauren Wolfe. 

Wolfe, who joined the paper last May, had tweeted days earlier that she had 'chills' watching Biden's plane landing at Andrew Air Force Base shortly before his inauguration.

'Biden landing at Joint Base Andrews now. I have chills,' she posted.   

Wolfe also tweeted that Trump was 'mortifying' and 'childish' for refusing to send Biden a military plane to bring him to DC. 

She later deleted that tweet after learning Biden had made the choice not to take a military plane. 

Wolfe's contract was ended with the paper with the editor claiming she was fired over the 'chills' tweet 'because I expressed emotion publicly on something I should not have, according to the publication.'  

Meanwhile, the Times claimed her dismissal was not on the basis of the tweet alone, but did not comment any further on the reasons for letting her go.  

More than 150 New York Times staffers write letter to bosses revealing new allegations of 'bias against people of color' by top reporter who 'used the N-word and said white privilege does not exist' as they demand fresh investigation More than 150 New York Times staffers write letter to bosses revealing new allegations of 'bias against people of color' by top reporter who 'used the N-word and said white privilege does not exist' as they demand fresh investigation Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 06:26 Rating: 5

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