The New York Times newsroom can be a tough place for the hearing-impaired

In a new book, former New York Times editor Katherine Bouton writes about working in a newsroom while losing her hearing.

The Times building has an open plan, symbolizing transparency. It’s beautiful, but the acoustics are terrible. Sound drifts up through the central atrium, and voices carry across a vast sea of desks and cubicles. Every morning in our department we had a 15-minute meeting to set the agenda for the day. It was held just off the atrium. ...

I left the paper in 2009 when a new boss came into my department. I delayed telling him about my hearing loss. I wanted him to get to know me, so that when I told him about the hearing loss it would be one of many qualities, perhaps even an incidental one, not the primary one. That was a mistake.

Eventually in an interview I initiated, sensing some distance on his part, he stunned me by saying that he didn’t think I was a “team player” and that he didn’t think things were working out for me in the department. So much for faking it. My advice to anyone in the workplace with hearing loss is to be open and upfront about it. If you aren’t, sooner or later it will backfire.

  • 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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