‘NY Times’ M.E. Addresses Augusta Column Controversy

By: Joe Strupp

New York Times Managing Editor Gerald Boyd, who has come under criticism for spiking two sports columns related to the ongoing dispute over letting women into the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, disputed Thursday afternoon that the columns were held because they disagreed with the paper’s editorial stance on the issue.

Boyd said the columns in question, by veteran sports scribes Harvey Araton and Dave Anderson, were spiked because of issues related to their relevance and quality, not their opinions.

“I have no problem with columns saying something different than the [paper’s] editorial stance,” Boyd told E&P. “I certainly don’t believe columns have to adhere to an editorial position.”

In the case of the Araton column, Boyd said he sought to have it “rewritten and improved” after reviewing it, but found it “lacking” following a rewrite, so he chose to hold it. He said the column did not openly address the paper’s stated editorial opposition to Augusta’s ban on women. It focused on plans to drop women’s softball in the Olympics (reportedly treating this as a more serious issue than the Augusta flap).

The Anderson column, however, directly addressed the paper’s editorial stance against Augusta, and disagreed with it, Boyd admitted. He said it wasn’t published because columnists should not be focusing so much attention on the paper itself.

“We would have had the same reaction if the column had reflected the editorial opinion of The New York Times,” Boyd said. “Nowhere in all of this discussion was there an issue of whether it was adhering to the editorial position of the paper. We did not care in the least about his position. Our position was that we wanted our columnists to do more than just comment on editorials, whether [Anderson] is for it or against it. That, as a matter of practice, becomes very parochial, inward-looking, and self-absorbed.”

Boyd added that the Times has published previous columns by Anderson reflecting a viewpoint different from the Times‘ editorial page. “We didn’t want a situation where we were writing about the ins and outs of The New York Times,” Boyd said of the Augusta story.

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