From the UK’s New Statesman: “Can the New York Times Succeed in London?”

From a story by Ian Burrell in The New Statesman headlined “Can the New York Times succeed in London?”:

We still don’t know whether an American news title can ever be more than a supplementary purchase for UK consumers or consistently dictate the British news agenda.

But the New York Times thinks it can, and is increasing its already hefty presence in the UK by recruiting more “live” news, graphics and visual editors. It is also determined to make its burgeoning London newsroom reflective of Britain’s diversity.

When Aina Khan joined the paper this summer she recalled with emotion the career challenges she has faced. “If like me you are from a working-class background, it is financially and emotionally impossible to survive in this industry,” the young British journalist of Pakistani heritage tweeted in a thread that recalled how she would commute by coach from Bradford to London for unpaid work experience at other news organisations.

“Being a hijab-wearing brown woman was also alienating in some newsrooms,” she added, in an admonition of the UK media’s struggles to diversify. Now Khan is working for the NYT, reporting on the UK’s lorry driver shortage and the Covid-19 crisis, while also profiling the multi-instrumentalist Sona Jobarteh and describing for a global readership the fondness of British youth for Nando’s.

Her hiring as the NYT’s first international fellow is part of a rapid expansion of the paper’s British newsroom, which now comprises 70 editorial staff and rivals smaller UK national titles in scale. It is a signal that the “Gray Lady” of American publishing, which has amassed 900,000 overseas subscribers, is not content with simply reporting the UK through the distanced perspective of a silver-haired foreign correspondent addressing the folks back home.

“We are building our staff in the UK to write about the UK from the perspective of people who are here,” says Jim Yardley, the NYT’s Europe editor….

But the expansion, underwritten by revenues that flow from a still-growing subscriber base of over eight million, will not excite the paper’s UK media rivals, especially those that have slated the NYT for its alleged sneering and unfair portrayal of post-Brexit Britain. Its UK coverage has been derided as “delusional” (Telegraph), “unrelentingly negative” (Spectator) and “a dystopian caricature” (Times)….

The depth of the NYT’s British reporting is reflected in its investigations, notably Jane Bradley and Amanda Taub’s revelations on the UK government’s failure to prepare for a surge of domestic violence during Covid lockdowns. Their reporting was nominated for the Orwell Prize for Journalism. Bradley, the paper’s UK investigative correspondent, worked on an agenda-setting exposé of “waste, negligence and cronyism” in the distribution of Covid contracts by Boris Johnson’s administration….

The NYT recently extended its London footprint to an additional building in Bloomsbury. From here it oversees coverage of all of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. For a large part of the day, London is the hub for the paper’s international coverage, which hands over to New York at around 3pm UK time and then resumes control at 9am, when it takes over from Seoul….

As it pushes its 50p-a-week subscription offer in pursuit of its target of 10 million subscribers by the end of 2025, the NYT long ago ceased to be merely a view from Manhattan. To the chagrin of some UK rivals, it now wants to feel much closer to home.

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