August 5, 2014

Reddit | Facebook | Gawker | The Huffington Post

During a question-and-answer session on Reddit today, former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller said the paper’s policy for drug testing its employees for marijuana is “increasingly difficult to defend” in light of the editorial board’s pro-pot stance.

Keller was taking questions to promote The Marshall Project, a nonprofit startup dedicated to covering the U.S. criminal justice system.

When a commenter asked Keller what he thought of the paper’s drug-testing policy, he said “reports of the death of irony are much exaggerated.” When another commenter asked about the policy in a reply, he gave a more detailed answer:

“I make a policy of not second-guessing my former colleagues in public, but I agree (and expect a lot of people at the NYT do, too) that the inconsistency is increasingly difficult to defend.”

The Times editorial board recently endorsed legalization of marijuana and featured a series of articles on its stance that included a trippy tour through The Times’ evolving position on marijuana legalization.

New York Times editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal said in a Reddit AMA Tuesday that The New York Times should stop testing employees for marijuana use:

“The issue of drug testing is a matter of corporate policy, and I don’t make corporate policy, and neither does anyone else in the editorial department. I was asked about this the other day by Chris Hayes and I said that if they asked me, I would say we should stop testing for marijuana use, but that I’m not all that sure I will be asked.”

Gawker’s J.K. Trotter reported last month that the Times was among eight large media companies that still drug-test employees. “Our corporate policy on this issue reflects current law,” a Times spokesperson told Michael Calderone after the editorial board endorsed legalizing weed.

Support high-integrity, independent journalism that serves democracy. Make a gift to Poynter today. The Poynter Institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, and your gift helps us make good journalism better.
Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism…
Benjamin Mullin

More News

Back to News