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At one of the most tumultuous times in US domestic political history, news organisations are struggling with key questions about both their internal practices and their purpose in a changed world. This weekend, James Bennet, the senior opinion editor at the New York Times, resigned as a result of an inflammatory op-ed authored by conservative US Senator Tom Cotton under the initial headline “Send In the Troops.” Bennet at first defended the column, which he later admitted he had not read. Yet a statement from the Times which said the piece did not meet editorial standards and an apparent U-turn in support from publisher Arthur G. Sulzberger made Bennet’s departure inevitable.
In a similar flashpoint, Stan Wischnowski, a top editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer, resigned last weekend after the newspaper ran the headline “Buildings Matter, Too,” which provoked a number of staff to walk out, as it drew an offensive equivalence between damage to buildings caused by civil unrest and deaths of black citizens at the hands of violent police.
New York Times columnist Ben Smith swept up the problems at his own paper along with those in other newsrooms, including the Washington Post, pointing to the slowly changing demographics within newsrooms as a key reason for growing internal pressure to change editorial practices and norms. He cited an internal document from
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