NYT Public Editor chides failure to identify author as murderer

NYT Public Editor says failure to identify hunger-striking prisoner Marwan Barghouti as a murderer harms newspaper's credibility.


Marwan Barghouti
Marwan Barghouti
Flash 90

The Public Editor of the New York Times took the newspaper to task for failing to identify Palestinian Authority leader Marwan Barghouti as a convicted murderer of Israeli Jews.

Public Editor Liz Spayd was responding to criticism of the newspaper for publishing on Sunday an Op-Ed by Barghouti titled “Why We Are on Hunger Strike in Israel’s Prisons” and identifying him only as “a Palestinian leader and parliamentarian.” Nearly a day later, an editor’s note appended to the end of the opinion piece clarified that Barghouti is serving a lengthy prison term after being convicted in an Israeli court of five counts of murder and membership in a terrorist organization.

The publication of the article marked the beginning of a hunger strike by hundreds of security prisoners jailed in Israel.

Failure to “more fully identify the biography and credentials of authors, especially details that help people make judgments about the opinions they’re reading,” Spayd wrote, “risks the credibility of the author and the Op-Ed pages.”

“In this case, I’m pleased to see the editors responding to the complaints, and moving to correct the issue rather than resist it. Hopefully, it’s a sign that fuller disclosure will become regular practice,” Spayd wrote.

The newspaper was slammed by Israeli leaders and U.S. Jewish groups for its failure to mention Barghouti’s terrorist activities and conviction for murder.