New York Times

NY Times Public Editor Acknowledges Errors in Nail Salon Expose In Response to Reason's Reporting

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Reason

In the wake of an exhaustive three-part series by Reason's Jim Epstein, New York Times' Public Editor Margaret Sullivan has acknowledged that the paper's May expose of the nail salon industry "went too far" in its claims. Given that the Times' account prompted New York Gov. Cuomo to establish a task force to investigate the industry, this is no small admission of overreach.

Writes Sullivan:

The series and its author, Sarah Maslin Nir, had admirable intentions in speaking for underpaid or abused workers…. But, in places, the two-part investigation went too far in generalizing about an entire industry. Its findings, and the language used to express them, should have been dialed back — in some instances substantially….

I'm always glad to see The Times take on situations in which the poor and voiceless are exploited. But, in doing so, it must protect its reputation for accuracy and rigor above all.

My recommendation is that The Times write further follow-up stories, including some that re-examine its original findings and that take on the criticism from salon owners and others — not defensively but with an open mind.

That's great, as far as it goes. Which, alas, is not very far toward the open-mindedness and non-defensiveness to which Sullivan exhorts her colleagues. Indeed, she defends the Times' slowness to respond to Epstein's criticism by legitimating epistemic closure of the worst kind:

Until now, The Times has not responded to that series because editors believe they defended the nail salon investigation fully [to a previous critique] and because they think the magazine, which generally opposes regulation, is reporting from a biased point of view.

That's a pretty amazing admission that the Times will do whatever it can to avoid uncomfortable scrutiny. Yes, Reason is explicitly libertarian—our slogan, right there at the top of our website and on the cover of every issue of our print magazine, is "Free Minds and Free Markets." What that has to do with factual assertions and a very clear, step-by-step refutation of Nir's account, remains unclear. And there's this:

The editors objected to many elements of Mr. Epstein's reporting, including his apparent defense of practices that allow undocumented or illegal immigrants to work in salons.

To be clear, a Times reporter can have "admirable intentions in speaking for underpaid or abused workers" and the Times' public editor can be "glad" to see her colleagues "take on situations in which the poor and voiceless are exploited." But when Reason's Epstein suggests that illegal immigrants—who are certainly among the poorest and most voiceless souls in America—have a right to improve their lives through hard work, well, that's just really problematic.

Such a declaration is more than passing strange, especially given the effect that Gov. Cuomo's task force and crackdown is having on the nail salon workers. One can only hope that given the Times' admissions of overreach and going "too far" that state and city bureaucrats will rethink their actions too.

Read Sullivan's full statement here.

Read Poynter's take on the matter here.

And read Jim Epstein's series here.

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  1. have a right to improve their lives through hard work

    Come on, Nick, the phrase “hard work” is totally racist! It’s like you don’t even listen to Melissa Harris-Perry!

    1. it’s not the phrase that’s racist, it’s the value we put on it. some cultures just don’t value hard work, such as present day america

      1. but Koreans do

  2. “The series and its author, Sarah Maslin Nir, had admirable intentions in speaking for underpaid or abused workers…”

    How about just reporting the news?

    1. “There are eight million stories in the naked city,” as the saying goes. Which ones are news?

    2. It is in fact Sullivan who has “admirable intentions” but goes too far with her inappropriate admissions. The NYTimes did an excellent job reporting on this matter, just as they handled the criminal blogging campaign of the Dead Sea Scrolls provocateur with consummate mastery, only to be inappropriately criticized on the grounds that they published “inaccurate” statements regarding that important affair. See the documentation of America’s leading criminal satire case at:

      http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

  3. “”admirable intentions””

    So, the non-apology-apology is, “Sure there were errors, but we meant well, and you’re a bunch of dicks”

    I’ve had better breakups than that.

    1. Don’t let facts get in the way of the narrative.

  4. Congratulations on your win. The series was excellent, and I’m glad to see the acknowledgment of that by the NYT.

    1. agreed

    2. This.

  5. Yes, Reason is explicitly libertarian?our slogan, right there at the top of our website and on the cover of every issue of our print magazine, is “Free Minds and Free Markets.”

    Well, if you switched it to “Pot, Ass Sex and Mexicans,” maybe NYT would treat you more seriously?

    1. Nick gets into enough cocktail partiez as is.

  6. highest rated comment =

    ” Abe Estero Bay 6 hours ago

    The complaints from the nail salon industry and libertarians opposed to all regulation remind me of the complaints from slave-holders about the merits of slavery.

    Would you expect the owners of salons including the Bernstein’s to be grateful to the Times for helping to professionalize and clean up their businesses?

    While one always has to be careful about biases, I wouldn’t waste too many of the valuable resources of the Public Editor on these extremely self-serving complaints.”

    1. Yeah, predominantly male libertarians living outside NYC really serve their own interests by insisting nail salon owners and employees have a right to contract like the rest of humanity. It’s not just a privilege enjoyed by privileged NYT authors.

    2. “grateful to the Times for helping to professionalize and clean up their businesses”

      Yes! they should be grateful for having their operating expenses rise by 30% overnight for no reason, and have all kinds of new regulatory oversight that will require them to come begging to the local influence peddling unions to “protect” them from the evil state inspectors….

      1. Nail polish fumes are directly responsible for everything wrong with me.

        1. Nuoh my god, they exploited you too Crusty?

        2. Yet you’ve never worked in a nail salon.

      2. that’s the point. you know you’re a pro when the government tries to stifle your competition.

    3. Ah, the sweet, sweet slavery argument.

      Yeah, why waste time figuring out the facts if someone challenging you isn’t the “right kind” of person?

    4. While one always has to be careful about biases

      Hear! Hear! Otherwise, you may end looking like a blithering, drooling idiot.

    5. be grateful to the Times for helping to professionalize and clean up their businesses

      How dare those business owners fail to display the requisite gratitude for increased government meddling based on poorly-researched and even outrightly fabricated accusations?

      LOL, the unexamined bias of progs: you should not only accept without question burdensome overregulation that nearly kills your business and forces you to fire workers, you should be obsequiously grateful for it.

  7. The series and its author, Sarah Maslin Nir, had admirable intentions in speaking for underpaid or abused workers….

    Mm, no, can’t say I find anti-capitalist credential-fluffing concern-trolling masquerading as a well-intentioned human interest story especially admirable. The author sought to earn prestige among other urban progressives expressly at the expense of her social interiors. So, no, no brownie points given for having sterling intentions.

    1. Correct. Her only intention was to tell the story she wanted to tell with no regards to the truth.

    2. “” at the expense of her social interiors. “

      Let me tell you about those social interiors….

      1. Is that like a dispairing comment?

  8. Until now, The Times has not responded to that series because editors believe they defended the nail salon investigation fully [to a previous critique] and because they think the magazine, which generally opposes regulation, is reporting from a biased point of view.

    KOCHTOPUS!!!

    1. At least the Times admits it can’t see its own bias. That’s almost a start.

      1. All they see is a warm dark place. Not all that pleasant-smelling, either.

      2. It’s a false start. Margaret Sullivan had to make the same empty gesture when the six Irish students died in the Berkeley balcony collapse during the summer. On that occasion, her paper claimed it was the notorious Irish partying by Irish kids abusing the J1 visa – not, as it emerged, sloppy building.

    2. Biased publication calls publication who disagrees with them biased. Self awareness: nowhere to be found.

      1. Do progs get angry and aggressive when they see another prog in the mirror?

    3. The NYT has a strict policy of never taking a potentially biased source of information seriously.

  9. Outstanding job Jim, ENB (who I believe blogged about it first here), and the rest of the Reason staff. Not so bad for a publication with a bias.

    1. Well when you’re biased towards universal a priori principles, when you’re biased towards truth, reason and (real) justice you tend to be right, a lot.

  10. Congratulations to Reason for giving the NYT another wedgie and another shove along the path to irrelevance.

    “My recommendation is that The Times write further follow-up stories”

    Oh, no, don’t trouble yourselves! I mean, thanks for the generous offer, but we’ll survive without yet another Times article on this subject.

  11. NAILED ‘EM!

    1. *dysconjugate gaze*

      From the nail salon fumes. Get it?

      Never mind.

  12. Is there any evidence they helped the “poor, voiceless, and exploited.” It appears they harmed them.

    Ohhhh, but intentions.

    1. Sure they helped the poor, voiceless, and exploited. They helped them out of their jobs!

    2. If by “poor, voiceless, and exploited” you mean “union goons”, why yes.

  13. admirable intentions

    REMAIN CALM. SHE MEANT WELL.

  14. Until now, The Times has not responded to that series because editors believe they defended the nail salon investigation fully [to a previous critique] and because they think the magazine, which generally opposes regulation, is reporting from a biased point of view.

    Ah, the “I know you are, but what am I?” gambit. Brilliant, bold and decisive move!

  15. Until now, The Times has not responded to that series because editors believe they defended the nail salon investigation fully [to a previous critique] and because they think the magazine, which generally opposes regulation, is reporting from a biased point of view.

    Imagine how circumspect they’d be about Reason’s criticisms if they knew about the orphanchipper Reason keeps in the basement.

  16. It’s this kind of journalism that makes me feel bad about not donating. Good job, reason. Sorry thr NY Times are such shits

  17. The editors objected to many elements of Mr. Epstein’s reporting, including his apparent defense of practices that allow undocumented or illegal immigrants to work in salons.

    How nice of the NYT to see things from Donald Trump’s point of view.

    1. Yeah, and with equal validity, they could gripe about his choice in ties.

  18. Leave it to the media to whine about bias.

  19. The progs love regulations and if they could, they’d regulate farts

  20. The sign in the photo asks the Times to ‘tell both sides’. Hell, I’d be pleased if it just told the truth.

  21. Roll it over man, I mean like wow.

    http://www.CompletePrivacy.tk

  22. “We lied so what”

    Would have been much more succinct.

  23. “I don’t like that libertarian rag criticizing our story, because they’re against regulation and biased”

    Says the NYT, demonstrably a lap dog of the left.

    Does irony or cognitive dissonance exist in the minds of the the left? When someone hires an undocumented alien without proper license, he or she disobeyed…… regulation. If Donald Trump was governor and he outlawed hiring of illegals under penalty of torture, he would have upheld the regulatory state and prevented the many practice the expose claimed to have found.

  24. In the wake of an exhaustive three-part series by Reason’s Jim Epstein, New York Times’ Public Editor Margaret Sullivan has acknowledged that the paper’s May expose of the nail salon industry “went too far” in its claims.

    Epstein should get a Pulitzer for this. Seriously. Or at least be up for one.

  25. The series and its author, Sarah Maslin Nir, had admirable intentions in speaking for underpaid or abused workers.

    The “intentions” were not so much to help the workers, as it was advance the leftist narrative about “evil” capitalists exploiting poor suffering workers. And thereby promote an agenda of ever-increasing regulation. Otherwise, the series would not have been full of such distortions of what workers and other sources actually said. What do we generally think about people who publish misleading, distorted or outright fabricated claim in order to advance a political agenda?

    1. Exactly.

      To be fair though, it’s unusual for the left to go after one of their protected groups this way. These nail salon owners don’t usually fit the lib definition of “capitalist” – ultra rich, white, part of some mega chain, etc. Nir actually picked a fight with the immigrant working class.

      But I what would they gain from this story, if proven true? It would bolsters the “restrictionist” narrative. They’ll sing the usual tune about immigration reform, even though a lot of these worker asked to be paid in cash off the books.

      Enforcing regulation (to the letter) on an industry like this would almost certainly lead to Asians NOT hiring illegals. Or not opening up businesses.

      1. “But I what would they gain from this story, if proven true?”
        Union jobs.

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  30. Isn’t it time we license and regulate journalists in this country? I mean, fuck, any bedwetting hack can get a job at the NYT now. Tony?

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