Employees at The Wall Street Journal are pushing publisher Almar Latour to crack down on “misinformation” published in the paper’s opinion pages.
A group of more than 280 WSJ reporters, editors, and other staff sent a letter to Latour on Tuesday calling for more separation between the paper’s news and opinion sections online. The letter also asked for more freedom for reporters to critique opinion articles online and said the opinion staff should be more restrictive in what it chooses to publish, according to WSJ, which reported on the letter.
Latour answered the letter in a statement, saying, “We are proud that we separate news and opinion at The Wall Street Journal and remain deeply committed to fact-based and clearly labeled reporting and opinion writing.”
“We cherish the unique contributions of our Pulitzer Prize-winning Opinion section to the Journal and to societal debate in the U.S. and beyond. Our readership today is bigger than ever and our opinion and news teams are crucial to that success,” Latour continued. “We look forward to building on our continued and shared commitment to great journalism at The Wall Street Journal.”
The letter said that the presentation of opinion articles alongside news articles in the website’s “Most Popular Articles” and “Recommended Videos” lists confuses readers between which articles are news and which are not. The letter also said that the opinion section’s quality is hurting WSJ reporters’ “credibility.”
“Opinion’s lack of fact-checking and transparency, and its apparent disregard for evidence, undermine our readers’ trust and our ability to gain credibility with sources,” the letter says, citing an op-ed by Vice President Mike Pence that was corrected after it was published. The WSJ employees said op-ed staff published the article “without checking government figures.”
The letter also pointed to a June 2 op-ed by The Manhattan Institute’s Heather Mac Donald, titled “The Myth of Systemic Police Racism.” Mac Donald argued that the “charge of systemic police bias was wrong during the Obama years and remains so today. … A solid body of evidence finds no structural bias in the criminal-justice system with regard to arrests, prosecution or sentencing. Crime and suspect behavior, not race, determine most police actions.”
While the article has not been updated with a correction, the letter accuses Mac Donald of cherry-picking data and drawing an “erroneous conclusion.”
“Employees of color publicly spoke out about the pain this Opinion piece caused them during company-held discussions surrounding diversity initiatives,” the letter continues, adding if the “company is serious about better supporting its employees of color, at a bare minimum it should raise Opinion’s standards so that misinformation about racism isn’t published.”
The upheaval in WSJ offices follows a newsroom revolt at The New York Times that took place in part over Twitter following the publication of an op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR). The op-ed argued that President Trump should use federal troops to curb violent riots in cities where local law enforcement has been overwhelmed.