What the Times Got Wrong About Nail Salons
July 26, 2015 at 9:39 am
Former Times reporter Richard Bernstein, a part owner of two day-spas in Manhattan, has a devastating post up at the New York Review of Books thoroughly debunking — or at the very least credibly challenging — that big New York Times investigative series of the city's nail salons. Mr. Bernstein, calls the Times coverage "demonstrably misleading." Particularly interesting are Mr. Bernstein's thoughts about why the Times got it wrong:
The narrative chosen by the Times, what might be called the narrative of wholesale injustice, is one of the most powerful and tempting in journalism. Certainly, as Mr. Baquet put it, it had "impact." It was read, he told an audience in mid-June, by 5 million people, which is five times the readership of the Sunday print edition, and produced an immediate government response.
But the quest for impact can overwhelm a newspaper's primary responsibility for accuracy. If the Times had revealed that undocumented workers in the salon business are being subject to abusive treatment, it would have served a useful and important purpose. But in extrapolating from the experience of Ms. Ren to make assertions about that "vast majority," the paper has put its tremendous prestige and power behind a demonstrably misleading depiction of the nail salon business as a whole.
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