NYT public editor: Times should have credited Jewish media on haredi sex abuse story

NEW YORK (JTA) — The public editor of The New York Times said the paper should have credited Jewish news outlets with leading the way on coverage of the handling of haredi Orthodox sex abuse cases by Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes.

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The editor, Arthur Brisbane, devoted his column on Sunday, titled “Credit Where Credit is Due,” to the subject.

Brisbane wrote that the Times’ two-part series on the communal pressure faced by victims of sex abuse in the haredi Orthodox community to stay silent, and the district attorney’s special treatment of the haredi Orthodox community, failed to credit previous reporting by Hella Winston of The New York Jewish Week, among others.

Brisbane said he tried to intervene before the second part of the series was published on May 10, but Carolyn Ryan, the metro editor of the Times, ignored an appeal he sent her from Melissa Ludtke, executive editor for the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University.

After reading material reported in The Jewish Week, the Forward, the FailedMessiah.com blog and New York magazine, Brisbane wrote, “It became clear to me that while there was important new material, many of the essential elements in The Times’s series had been reported previously.”

In response to his inquiries, Brisbane said Ryan told him that the pieces in the Jewish and other news outlets appeared “over a period of months when The Times was doing its own extensive, independent reporting: interviewing more than 120 people, scrutinizing court records and creating databases of legal cases. But she said The Times credits others only when it uses ‘exclusive information that they reported first.’ ”

Brisbane said that four veteran journalists who specialize in ethics all agreed that the Times was wrong not to give credit to the earlier reporting.

“Fairness dictates what the emerging expectations of the Internet era also dictate: readers should be told more clearly about precedent coverage by others,” Brisbane wrote.

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