Article Author, NYT Culture Editor Address Shonda Rhimes Outcry

Sometimes, it’s all about the article updates.

Adding to a post this morning about the furor surrounding New York Times TV critic Alessandra Stanley’s weekend piece on Shonda Rhimes‘ new ABC-TV program How To  Get Away With Murder, public editor Margaret Sullivan has shared post-publication feedback from culture editor Danielle Mattoon and author Stanley.

AlessandraStanley_09_18

Let’s start with Mattoon’s remarks. Rhetorical is all fine and dandy, but next time, she and her fellow NYT editors may want to make sure a question mark (or some other equivalent indicator) punctuates this approach. As written, the first-paragraph intent was not clear enough:

“Alessandra used a rhetorical device to begin her essay,” Mattoon said, “and because the piece was so largely positive, we as editors weren’t sensitive enough to the language being used…”

She told me that multiple editors — at least three — read the article in advance but that none of them raised any objections or questioned the elements of the article that have been criticized.

For her part, Stanley stresses that once the full piece is read, the subtle nuances of the lede become clear:

I referenced a painful and insidious stereotype solely in order to praise Ms. Rhimes and her shows for traveling so far from it. If making that connection between the two offended people, I feel bad about that. But I think that a full reading allows for a different takeaway than the loudest critics took.

Ditto, writes Stanley, with regards to her description of star Viola Davis as being less classically beautiful than Scandal’s Kerry Washington. Sullivan says she still plans to speak with and update with remarks from executive editor Dean Baquet.

Previously on FishbowlNY:
NYT Columnist Defends Provocative Ray Rice Lede