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New York Times faces new pushback on 'Caliphate' podcast

January 12, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 56.3%. 2 min read.

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 27: The New York Times building stands in Manhattan on July 27, 2017 in New York City. The New York Times Company shares have surged to a nine-year high after posting strong earnings on Thursday. Partly due to new digital subscriptions following the election of Donald Trump as president, the company reported a profit of $27.7 million in the second quarter, up from $9.1 million in the same period last year. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The New York Times is facing fresh blowback for how it handled the fallout over falsehoods unearthed in "Caliphate," the paper's award-winning, 12-part podcast about the Islamic State.

A group of 24 public radio stations sent a letter on Monday to The Times audio department with concerns about "lapses in judgment" in its response last month when the paper announced that the podcast "did not meet our standards for accuracy. " These stations broadcast "The Daily," The Times' flagship daily news podcast.

The Times started an investigation into the reporting process behind "Caliphate" in September after Canadian police charged Shehroze Chaudhry with "Hoax-Terrorist activity. " Last month, The Times said it "found a history of misrepresentations by Mr. Chaudhry and no corroboration that he committed the atrocities he described in the 'Caliphate' podcast," according to an editor's note, and affixed audio corrections to the episodes.

These journalistic errors have been a black mark on The Times' audio ambitions led by the team behind "The Daily. " "Caliphate" won the 2018 Peabody in the radio/podcast category, a prestigious journalism award, which The Times has since returned.

Monday's letter, sent by the Public Radio Program Directors Association, focused not on the merit of the podcast but on the way The Times handled the fallout.

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.

The final concern was about Andy Mills, a producer of "Caliphate. " The letter takes issue with Mills being given "greater visibility" following the fallout whereas Rukmini Callimachi, the journalist behind the podcast, was reassigned.

Mills had produced and hosted an episode of "The Daily" that released a few days after The Times announced the results of their investigation into the "Caliphate" podcast.

The Times responded on Tuesday to each of the concerns in a letter signed by Sam Dolnick, an assistant managing editor at the paper.

Dolnick wrote that The Times did not believe Barbaro had to disclose his relationship with Tobin since the conversation was seen as an "audio version" of an editor's note whereas an "accountability interview" was given to NPR.

Regarding Mills, Dolnick wrote that The Times is taking the allegations of misconduct "very seriously. " As to why Mills hosted the recent episode of "The Daily," Dolnick said the episode had been previously scheduled but that the company "should have changed plans. "

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