OLD Media Moves

The ethics of NYTimes economics reporter Edmund Andrews

May 23, 2009

New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt addresses the ethical considerations behind allowing economics reporter Edmund Andrews to write about his personal money problems related to a subprime mortgage at the same time he covers economic policy for the paper.

Hoyt writes, “Baquet said he saw no conflict in Andrews’s personal situation and his beat, but he knew that some people would perceive one, so he tried to minimize the reporter’s involvement in ‘covering things directly related to the housing collapse.’ Andrews told me: ‘I shy away from articles about the pros and cons of this approach or that approach in aiding homeowners. I would have too much at stake.’

“But Baquet acknowledged they have not been rigorous about it. Andrews shared a front-page byline when President Obama announced his plan to help homeowners in danger of foreclosure. He wrote about details of the plan, demands by senators that foreclosures be delayed, and an agreement to freeze interest rates on some subprime mortgages.

“Andrews is an excellent reporter who explains complex issues clearly. There are plenty of them to cover without assigning him to those that could directly affect whether he keeps his own house. He is too close to that story.”

Read more here.

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