Audio Journalist Who Worked on Flawed Podcast Leaves The Times
Nearly two months after The New York Times announced that the 2018 podcast “Caliphate” did not meet its journalistic standards, Andy Mills, an audio journalist who helped make the series, has resigned from the company, according to a memo on Friday from the paper’s executive editor, Dean Baquet, and managing editor, Joe Kahn.
Mr. Mills confirmed his departure in a brief interview on Friday and posted a note on his personal website describing the reasons for leaving The Times.
He joined the paper in 2016 after working at “Radiolab,” a podcast from the New York public radio station WNYC. He was part of the team that created “The Daily,” The Times’s most popular podcast, and was later a co-host of “Caliphate,” a 12-part series about the Islamic State terrorist group.
In February 2018, two months before “Caliphate” made its debut, an article in New York Magazine’s The Cut on sexual harassment in New York public radio reported that Mr. Mills had been the subject of complaints during his time at “Radiolab.”
Women interviewed for the article said that he had asked them for dates, given unsolicited back rubs, poured beer on the head of a woman he worked with, and said that a woman in the office was hired over a man because of her gender.
WNYC’s human resources department investigated Mr. Mills’s behavior, The Cut reported, and gave him a warning while allowing him to keep his job. In an interview for The Cut, Mr. Mills admitted to much of the behavior described in WNYC’s human resources report.
In the memo on Friday, Mr. Baquet and Mr. Kahn cited “a difficult stretch for our audio team,” but did not go into details about why Mr. Mills had resigned.
“We are committed to helping build the systems and structures necessary to support audio’s rapid growth and management needs, and making the team a far more integrated part of the newsroom,” the memo said. “We owe each other a culture of collaboration, collegiality and respect in our workplace.”
The Times’s efforts to make up for the mistakes of “Caliphate” included an editors’ note published in December saying that the podcast had put too much credence in the false or exaggerated account of one of its main subjects. In an audio interview with Michael Barbaro, the host of “The Daily,” Mr. Baquet attributed the show’s flaws to “an institutional failing.” The editors’ note and audio interview followed a monthslong internal investigation into the podcast’s reporting.
After the correction, people who worked with Mr. Mills in his previous job posted complaints on Twitter about his behavior toward women in the “Radiolab” workplace and in social settings. In response to the complaints, “Radiolab” issued a statement last month: “We hate that this happened and we apologize to those we failed. At the time, show leadership initiated a response from WNYC to address Andy’s behavior, but it didn’t happen fast enough and it didn’t do enough.”
Mr. Mills said in his online post on Friday that his departure from The Times did not stem from the problems with “Caliphate,” writing that people in leadership positions at the paper “did not blame us.”
He added that, after the publication of the editors’ note, “another story emerged online: that my lack of punishment came down to entitlement and male privilege. That accusation gave some the opportunity to resurface my past personal conduct.”
He admitted to earlier mistakes, writing, “Eight years ago during a team meeting, I gave a colleague a back rub. Seven years ago I poured a drink on a co-worker’s head at a drunken bar party. I look back at those actions with extraordinary regret and embarrassment.”
He wrote that he had told The Times about his past mistakes when he was hired and had received good reviews for his work at the paper. He also said that he received a promotion in December. But in the weeks after the mistakes of “Caliphate” were made public, he wrote, the “allegations on Twitter quickly escalated to the point where my actual shortcomings and past mistakes were replaced with gross exaggerations and baseless claims.”
In the end, he wrote, “I feel it is in the best interest of both myself and my team that I leave the company at this time. I do this with no joy and a heavy heart.”
On Jan. 27, The Times announced that Clifford J. Levy, the paper’s metro editor since 2018, had been promoted to deputy managing editor. As part of his new duties, he was assigned to temporarily advise the audio department.
Source: Read Full Article