How the NYT edits its sin beat

Oliver Burkeman interviews New York Times reporter Mosi Secret, who wrote about a strip club in his debut on the paper's new sin-and-vice beat.

The Times is notoriously prudish; it regularly ties itself in linguistic knots to avoid using profanity, and only opted to call Pussy Riot by its name after internal brow-furrowing. So Secret's 2,400-word account of activities at the Bliss Bistro – to which he gained access on condition that he wouldn't reveal the surnames of anyone involved – seemed decidedly un-Timesian. (A number of readers complained.) And yet in other ways it was very Timesian indeed, as when Secret wrote of "Tony", the club's manager: "Many of the details he shared that day, like his account of selling large quantities of heroin, could not be independently verified." No shit, as the Times wouldn't say.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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