The New York Times Public Editor, Margaret Sullivan, has responded to a review written by The Times’ TV critic, Alessandra Stanley, in which Stanley calls Shonda Rhimes “an Angry Black Woman.” At the conclusion of her initial blog entry about the story, Sullivan wrote, “This is a preliminary post, and I’ll be adding to it later today, or posting again. But I’ll say this much: The readers and commentators are correct to protest this story. Intended to be in praise of Ms. Rhimes, it delivered that message in a condescending way that was — at best — astonishingly tone-deaf and out of touch.”
According to The Times’ website, “Margaret Sullivan is the fifth public editor appointed by The New York Times. She writes about The Times and its journalism in a frequent blog — the Public Editor’s Journal — and in a twice-monthly print column in the Sunday Review section. The public editor’s office also handles questions and comments from readers and investigates matters of journalistic integrity. The public editor works independently, outside of the reporting and editing structure of the newspaper; her opinions are her own.”
The website also says that “Ms. Sullivan was editor and vice president of The Buffalo News before being named as Times public editor in September 2012.”
Sullivan ended her blog entries yesterday about the furor with this: “My final take of the day: I still plan to talk to [New York Times executive editor Dean] Baquet about the article, its editing, and about diversity in the newsroom, particularly among culture critics. The Times has significant diversity among its high-ranking editors and prominent writers, but it’s troubling that with 20 critics, not one is black and only two are persons of color.” Baquet himself is African-American.
Sullivan writes much more about this incident, and we urge you to click on the link in our first paragraph, above, which will take you to her original and subsequent blog entries about it.