LC must boycott NY Times in protest of transphobic news

Photo of NYT papers with the text "All The News That's Fit To Print" centered
Leo Bernstein Newman / The Mossy Log

Lewis & Clark needs to stop supporting the New York Times.

The Associated Student Body (ASB) should stop providing digital access, professors should stop driving clicks to their website and if you have a paper subscription, it is time to cancel. The New York Times, an institution of United States journalism, has an agenda against transgender people.

Ironically, the paper’s slogan, “all the news that’s fit to print,” recently celebrated its anniversary since it was first printed on the left ear of the NY Times on Feb. 10, 1897. The tongue-in-cheek message has a dual meaning, referring both to printing what can physically fit on the pages and what is suitable to publish according to journalistic standards.

However, the New York Times has strayed far from its self-proclaimed standards, instead filling its pages with articles such as Emily Bazelon’s “The Battle Over Gender Therapy,” Katie Baker’s “When Students Change Gender Identity and Parents Don’t Know,” Ross Douthat’s “How to Make Sense of the New L.G.B.T.Q. Culture War” and many others which all mischaracterize trans experiences. Additionally, these kinds of articles feed into the conservative fabricated crisis of the trans child, which has been used to justify legislation that limits access to healthcare and simple existence.

This skew in coverage was brought to the attention of the NY Times by two coordinated open letters, one organized by a group of NY Times contributors and another by the media advocacy organization GLAAD, which focuses on LGBTQ+ issues.

The contributor letter, which was directed to the NY Times’ associate managing editor for standards, eloquently argues, “Plenty of reporters at the Times cover trans issues fairly. Their work is eclipsed, however, by what one journalist has calculated as over 15,000 words of front⁠-⁠page Times coverage debating the propriety of medical care for trans children published in the last eight months alone.” 

The letter points out how numerous stories from the outlet have been used by legislators in anti-trans legislation, how opinion stories are disproportionately against trans people and how the most prominent trans reports and columnists have not been rehired by the organization.

It also highlights how this is not the first offense the NY Times has levied against LGBTQ+ people, as “You no doubt recall a time in more recent history when it was ordinary to speak of homosexuality as a disease at the American family dinner table — a norm fostered in part by the New York Times’ track record of demonizing queers through the ostensible reporting of science.”

Accordingly, the GLAAD letter summarizes the grievances listed in the contributor letter, as well as three calls to action for the NY Times: 1. Stop printing the biased coverage, 2. Listen to the trans community and our concerns and 3. Hire trans writers and editors in full time positions. If these conditions are met, business can resume as usual, however I am highly doubtful this will be the case since the NY Times has acknowledged the letters, but has changed nothing. 

I signed both letters and urge everyone in the community to do the same. The contributor letter has signatures from over 1,200 New York Times contributors and over 34,000 media workers, NY Times readers and subscribers. Despite how terrifying the policies and coverage of the NY Times has been, it at least feels comforting to be in community with so many others.

However, as a trans journalist, this is very personally impactful for myself. In high school, I was the only openly trans editor — now at LC, not much has changed. Most of my time on The Mossy Log’s editorial board has been lonely, and only now as editor in chief am I joined by other trans editors. I promise this has made a difference.

My particular viewpoint as a trans person, someone who is nonbinary, has led to the coverage of name policies, inclusivity in athletics, celebrity advocacy and media representation. I have also used my personal perspective in editorials, such as this piece, but also on topics such as the queer importance of Halloween, Joe Rogan’s relationship to “cancel culture” and lackluster advocacy at LC.

I am acutely aware that most of this coverage would have been overlooked if myself, or another trans writer, did not pay attention to these topics. I know that my viewpoint and lived experience adds rather than detracts from my care in covering these issues, which is something the NY Times desperately needs. 

However, it is the unfortunate truth that I need to defend why people like me deserve to be in the news industry. Trans people deserve a seat at the table, and we deserve to work in a media landscape that supports us. That is precisely why we need to stop supporting the NY Times until they do better, and get our intake of news from the outlets that are getting it right.

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