The publisher of the New York Times is personally reaching out to former subscribers who canceled their subscriptions over the paper’s decision to hire conservative columnist Bret Stephens.
Publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. sent an email Friday afternoon to former subscribers who specifically mentioned Stephens as the reason they canceled their subscriptions but still opted in to receive messages from the Times, Politico reported.
“Our customer care team shared with me that your reason for unsubscribing from the New York Times included our decision to hire Bret Stephens as an Opinion columnist. I wanted to provide a bit more context,” Sulzberger began the letter.
Less than six percent of readers who cancelled their subscriptions to the Times listed Stephens as a reason for dropping their subscriptions, according to a Times spokesman.
Stephens, a former Wall Street Journal columnist and critic of President Trump, got slammed by Times readers after he penned his first column questioning the validity of the science behind climate change.
The column led to complaints from various progressives on Twitter, a Change.org petition demanding the paper rescind Stephens’ job offer, canceled subscriptions, and a public editor column devoted to responding to readers’ complaints about Stephens.
Sulzberger said in the letter that it is important that readers recognize the difference between news and opinion while noting that NYT Executive Editor Dean Baquet “has sharply expanded the team of reporters and editors who cover climate change.”
The publisher mentioned several recent Times articles on climate change, such as one article that suggested climate change caused rising waters in China, and then encouraged readers to “sign up for a free newsletter” from the “climate desk” for news about the subject.
“The Times’s Opinion pages remain an independent and unblinking forum for debate from a wide range of viewpoints among open-minded, informed writers and readers. I don’t think, in these polarizing and partisan times, there’s anything quite like it in American journalism,” Sulzberger wrote.
He added that with so many people “talking past each other about how best to address climate change,” he hoped that exposing people to different viewpoints on the subject will encourage people to work together to come up with bipartisan solutions.
Sulzberger, however, still maintains that the paper will only publish certain points of view over others.
“This does not mean that the Times will publish any commentary. Some points of view are not welcome, including those promoting prejudice or denying basic truths about our world. But it does mean that, in the coming years, we aim to further enrich the quality of our debate with other honest and intelligent voices, including some currently underrepresented in our pages,” he wrote.