On Sunday, when Guardian US revealed the identity of the infamous NSA leaker, apparently holed up in a hotel in Hong Kong, the NYT tweeted the news: “Former C.I.A. Worker Says He Is Source of Leak on U.S. Surveillance, British News Site Reports.”
You’d think a mention and a link by a newspaper with over 8.5 million followers would be the stuff of dreams for most news orgs, but no. Guardian US‘ New York-based deputy editor, Stuart Millar tweeted, “@nytimes ‘British news site’. Seriously?” Though Guardian US shares some operations with the UK-based The Guardian newspaper, the US version—hosted online at guardiannews.com—is headquartered in New York and has a decent-sized staff.
Elma Gilbey Keller, whose husband is former NYT editor Bill Keller, said “I am amazed that the NYT continues to call the @GuardianUS a British news site. @Sulliview what do you think of this petty inaccuracy?” @Sulliview, the Twitter handle for the NYT’s public editor, hasn’t responded. More staffers piled on. Guardian US‘ Heidi N. Moore tweeted today: “…it’s not “a British newspaper.” We have a US office that’s an LLC w/57 ppl; Greenwald is American.” She was referring to Glenn Greenwald, whose byline appears on the story NYT was tweeting about. He said, “Dear NYT: no matter how often you call us ‘British site,’ it won’t stop being factually false. Rise up above those petty resentments.”
It’s not just Twitter, either. In stories recapping the developments over the last week on its website and in the paper, NYT has consistently lumped Guardian US in with The Guardian, referring to both as a “British newspaper,” and not once acknowledging its U.S. operations or the role of its U.S. (and in many cases, American) reporters. For what it’s worth, NYT has called Greenwald everything but journalist. For example, in this story, he’s just a “blogger.”
Whether it’s petty jealousy or not, it’s not entirely difficult to see why NYT might get a little confused about the guardiannews.com’s provenance, you know, if they weren’t good at research or something. Though it identifies itself as @GuardianUS on Twitter and its reporters often refer to it as Guardian US, guardiannews.com doesn’t include the “US” in the title on its website. Reporters’ bios also link back to the UK website, adding to the confusion. A quick search though, pulls up the launch announcement that should’ve cleared everything up.
Capping it all off yesterday, The Guardian‘s Washington bureau chief, Ewen MacAskill, probably took the best swipe at NYT’s style choice: “The American paper The New York Times reports that Ex-Worker at C.I.A. Says He Leaked Data on Surveillance #NSAfiles.”
UPDATE: For clarity’s sake, it’s been pointed out that The Guardian didn’t “reveal” the source of their NSA stories in the traditional sense of that word. Technically, they say, the source desired to reveal himself, and did so by giving The Guardian an interview. In other words, we think they’d like everyone to know they not only had his permission to “reveal” his identity, but he wanted his identity to be revealed.