‘NY Times’ Freelancers Get More Bylines

By: Amy Westfeldt, Associated Press Writer

(AP) The New York Times has given more bylines to nonstaff reporters in recent weeks following scandals over plagiarism and byline credits that led to the resignations of the newspaper’s two top editors.

The Times has given a small number of bylines and contribution credits to freelance writers, including a front-page byline that nonstaff reporter Ariel Hart shared with staffer David Halbfinger on Wednesday about a Mississippi workplace shooting.

Times spokeswoman Catherine Mathis characterized the expanded credits “as a change in practice rather than a change in policy.”

“We have been seeing a modest number of contributor credits in recent days as a result of devolving more authority onto the individual departments and desks,” Mathis said Thursday.

She said no formal policy changes would occur until after a committee appointed to review newsroom policies issues a report later this month.

Regarding the increased use of stringer bylines, Mathis said, “Certainly in the wake of the Rick Bragg situation, we have been thinking about this.”

Bragg, a Pulitzer Prize-winning national correspondent for the Times, resigned on May 28, five days after the paper published an editors’ note saying a freelancer who reported the bulk of a story that carried Bragg’s byline should also have received credit.

Bragg said at the time that Times reporters frequently used contributions by stringers, or freelancers, without crediting them.

Byline policies are one of many changes being considered by a committee of New York Times staffers and two outside executives appointed after a plagiarism scandal rocked the newspaper.

Reporter Jayson Blair resigned on May 1 after he was accused of using material from another newspaper account without attribution. The Times later said he had committed plagiarism or fraud in dozens of articles.

Fallout from the scandal led to the resignations in June of executive editor Howell Raines and managing editor Gerald Boyd.

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