A group of 24 public radio stations sent a letter to the audio department of the Times on Monday worrying about “lapse of judgment” in its response last month when the newspaper announced that the podcast “did not meet our standards of accuracy.” These stations broadcast “The Daily”, The Times’ daily news podcast. The letter, obtained by CNN Business, was previously tweeted by Washington Post’s Erik Wemple.
The letter also said The Times’ decision to have Barbaro interview Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet was “flawed”, in part because of Barbaro’s personal relationship with Lisa Tobin, the executive producer of “Caliphate.” The two are engaged.
Abby Goldstein, president and CEO of the Public Radio Program Directors Association, told CNN Business on Tuesday that the letter was intended to communicate concerns and not “draw a line in the sand” with specific requirements.
“When we put programming on the air for our audiences, we support that programming. We tell our audiences that we believe in the journalistic rigor of these programs, and we make them available to you through our largest megaphone,” Goldstein said. The letter is really about taking responsibility for staff behavior.
The Times on Tuesday responded to each of the concerns in a letter signed by Sam Dolnick, an assistant editor-in-chief of the newspaper.
“We believe we have dealt with what was a significant journalistic lapse of responsibility. We are deeply committed to continuing to pursue ambitious audio journalism and have already begun to implement changes that will make our audio report even stronger,” Dolnick wrote .
Dolnick wrote that The Times did not believe Barbaro had to reveal his relationship with Tobin, as the conversation was considered an “audio version” of an editor’s remark, while a “responsibility interview” was given to NPR. He also said that Barbaro “deeply regrets” the private messages he sent to journalists and that “editors have discussed their expectations with him in the future.”
As for Mills, Dolnick wrote that The Times takes the allegations of misdemeanors very seriously. On why Mills hosted the recent episode of “The Daily,” Dolnick said the episode was previously planned, but that the company “should have changed plans.”
The Times did not comment beyond the letter. Barbaro and Mills did not respond to requests for comment.