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The ‘Times’ Finally Covers Racial Profiling at Barneys—After a Critique by Its Public Editor | The Nation

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Greg Mitchell

Greg Mitchell

Media, politics and culture.

The ‘Times’ Finally Covers Racial Profiling at Barneys—After a Critique by Its Public Editor




Barneys’s flagship store in New York. (Courtesy of Jim Henderson, CC0 1.0)

Well, well. Within hours of an online column by its public editor criticizing The New York Times for ignoring a major local controversy, lo and behold, the first article on the issue appeared at the newspaper’s site last night and in print (on page 24A) today.

The simmering issue concerns alleged racial profiling at famous New York department stores such as Barneys and Macy’s and has been covered widely by some other local news outlets for days. There’s even a Jay-Z angle. The state’s attorney general is investigating. But the Times had ignored it completely, drawing an angry response from some readers, which in turn sparked yesterday’s blog post by the paper’s excellent public editor Margaret Sullivan.

She revealed the excuse offered by Times editors—that the story broke elsewhere and they had no fresh angle on it. The editors also sneered about the Daily News’s riding it as a hobby horse, day after day, in the tabloid manner, so what could they do? Sullivan, however, concluded:

My take: The Times doesn’t have to turn this into a campaign or publish daily front-page articles about it. But the subject is a serious one—allegations of racial profiling—one that The Times has devoted plenty of its own resources to in the coverage of the city’s “stop-and-frisk” police practices, which were successfully challenged in court. And, while The Times can’t cover every story, this one is newsworthy.

At the very least, The Times could publish a wire-service story, summarizing the situation. But it’s also worthy of a deeper look. If there are concerns about the “he said, she said” aspect of what’s been written elsewhere so far, why not get under the surface to report it fully and energetically?

One editor told her, “We very well might write about it in the future, but there would have to be a smart way for us to move the story ahead, or a newsbreak—like a resignation or a major change in store policy.” So: what appeared in the story they suddenly ran, a few hours later?

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I don’t see anything really new except for a meeting between the Rev. Al Sharpton and Barneys execs. No resignation or major change in store policy. In fact, the story links to scoops in the dreaded New York Post and the Daily News.

It was catch-up time—and only in response, in seems, to the public editor.

An incident at a recent public forum highlighted the misogyny still plaguing progressive movements.

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