Two New York Times journalists have left the paper over separate controversies including its high-profile public health and Covid-19 reporter Donald McNeil following disclosures about his use of racist language while on a company-sponsored student trip.
Following allegations of McNeil’s conduct when he had used the N-word in front of high school students on a 2019 trip to Peru, the paper initially investigated and said he had been disciplined.
That response was strongly criticized in a letter by more than 150 New York Times staffers who said that despite its “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”.
Six students or parents on the trip had complained about the comments, the Daily Beast reported.
In memos to staff on Friday, Dean Baquet, the paper’s executive editor, and Joe Kahn, its managing editor, announced the departure of McNeil and audio journalist Andy Mills, who is a co-creator of the Daily podcast and a producer and co-host of the Caliphate podcast which had been found to have serious editorial failings.
The paper’s media reporter tweeted the memo on McNeil’s departure and an apology from McNeil.
The departure of McNeil comes amid a wider reckoning across large parts of the media over diversity and inclusion.