New York Times top editor on journalism's 'biggest crisis'

The top editor at the New York Times says President Donald Trump's attacks on journalism are "out of control." But he...

Posted: Apr 9, 2018 9:32 AM
Updated: Apr 9, 2018 9:32 AM

The top editor at the New York Times says President Donald Trump's attacks on journalism are "out of control." But he's more concerned about the slow death of local news.

Executive Editor Dean Baquet told CNN's Brian Stelter on Sunday that the "biggest crisis" facing journalism today is "the decline of local newspapers."

His remarks came the same weekend that journalists at Colorado's Denver Post staged a rebellion against its owner Alden Global Capital, a New York-based hedge fund. The staff there is facing another round of 30 job cuts after years of layoffs. The latest cuts prompted the paper to write editorials on its opinion section that blasted Alden and begged for its life.

"This is a major city, Denver. This is a newsroom that now is on the verge of having fewer than 100 journalists," Baquet said. "That is unbelievable. That means things won't be covered, school boards aren't being covered. This is a crisis in American journalism."

Related: Sinclair allows critical ad to air, sandwiched between its defense

The Denver Post's story is not unique. Hundreds of local newsrooms across the country are struggling to find reliable streams of revenue in the digital age.

"The biggest crisis in journalism is not Donald Trump's attacks on The Washington Post and The New York Times," Baquet added. "We're big, we can stand it, we can even thrive, and it can even inspire us."

While he worries most about local news, Baquet did express concern about the president's incendiary comments about major news outlets.

"I hope the president, to be frank, the next time he's about to send out a tweet that criticizes the press, I hope he pauses and looks at the courage of the journalists all over the world who work for my institution and others, and understands that what we do is very important and vital and helps the world understand the world," Baquet said.

On Sunday morning, Trump fired another shot at The Washington Post. He called the outlet "far more fiction than fact" and accused the Post of printing "made up garbage."

"I think the president missed the part of high school civics where the First Amendment was explained, and where the role of free and independent press was explained," Baquet said.

Related: President Trump to skip White House Correspondents' Dinner again

As Trump has blasted some mainstream news outlets, he's also lauded Fox News, where opinion programming is largely celebratory of the president and often echoes his administration's talking points.

Trump tweeted praise Sunday morning for Fox News host Jesse Watters, who on Saturday said the FBI's investigation into Hillary Clinton was rigged.

Baquet weighed in on CNN's "Reliable Sources," saying Trump's attacks against major news organizations are "debilitating."

"If [Trump] creates a culture where 'Fox and Friends' and Jesse Watters are regarded as serious journalism, and The New York Times and The Washington Post are not, he will have [had a] longstanding, harmful effect on the country," Baquet said.

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