For the past two years the New York Times has been one of the leading voices in the news media’s Pep Squad for Truth – those preaching-to-the-choir ad campaigns aimed at convincing the American public that real news matters.
The Times launched its campaign with this 2017 TV spot.
Since then the paper has run a variety of house ads like this one.
Now comes the latest in the series, a TV spot that documents “a New York Times reporter [Rukmini Callimachi] travel[ing] to Iraq five times and unearthing more than 15,000 documents to detail the Islamic States’ bureaucratic and brutal rule.”
But it also produced some serious controversy, as detailed by Maryam Saleh at The Intercept.
About a week after [Callimachi’s] piece was published, [researcher Sara] Farhan emailed Callimachi to ask if she got permission from Iraqi government officials to take the documents, and if she got consent from the people named in the files to publish their names. Farhan didn’t hear back, so she worked with two legal scholars to launch a petition calling on the Times to rethink its use of the documents. The removal of the documents violates international law, the petition authors wrote, calling for them to be returned to Iraq and warning that failure to do so would set a “dangerous precedent for the plundering of material and cultural heritage in conflict zones.”
As Saleh’s piece notes, Callimachi’s cache “is minor when compared to the scores of millions of documents the U.S. government took from Iraq following the 2003 invasion.” Regardless, it was emblematic of “the wound caused by the U.S. government’s expropriation of millions of pages of national documents.”
(To be fair graf goes here)
To be fair, 1) Callimachi says her interest was in preserving the documents, and 2) this case is a bit different since “[questions] about the ownership of the ISIS documents removed by the New York Times are even more complicated since ISIS is not a sovereign state.”
(To be sure graf goes here)
To be sure, no advertiser is obliged to reveal the whole truth in its ads. But you’d think a news organization might be a bit more fastidious than the Times spot is.