NY Times regularly revises its articles after publication. The revisions are substantial, undisclosed, and are nothing like real time updates in developing stories. These are regular articles that undergo dramatic changes that appear as if NY Times editors received a commissar’s call stressing the party line and demanding the article matches it exactly, with the NY Times editors dutifully obliging.
I recently stumbled on one of such revisions. Within hours, the description of Scott Pruitt, the newly appointed EPA head, in the NY Times article went from being an “ally of fossil fuel Industry,” to a “climate change dissenter,” to a “climate change denialist.” Later, I was pointed to a helpful website newsdiffs.org. Newsdiffs archives multiple versions of news articles and shows the differences between them. That article has been revised or rewritten at least six times after its original publication, all without any notice to the readers.
On the topic of climate debate, the most prominent rewrite seen is the replacement of the term “climate skeptic” with “climate denialist.“ Also witnessed, is the attempt to do some damage control, like replacing “Obama’s new climate change regulations” that reporters probably heard firsthand from government officials, with “Obama’s new clean air regulations.“
Examples, limited to the climate debate
The following article was completely re-written from its original version on January 14-15. Then, on January 18, the sentence, “Obama’s new climate change regulations are driving electric utilities to shut down coal plants,” was rewritten by replacing the term “climate change” with “clean air,” thus becoming: “Obama’s new clean air regulations are driving electric utilities to shut down coal plants“:
Multiple changes, including changing the word Skeptics to Denialists in the title:
The article was revised 14 times:
(By MICHAEL D. SHEAR, JULIE HIRSCHFELD, MAGGIE HABERMAN)
Multiple changes, including in the authorship:
http://newsdiffs.org/article-history/www.nytimes.com/2017/01/18/science/earth-highest-temperature-record.html (By JUSTIN GILLIS and JOHN SCHWARTZ)
For example, this link shows multiple changes to the body of the article:
The title was completely re-written:
Another title that was re-written:
Multiple substantial changes:
At the time of this writing, some of these articles are different from their last versions in newsdiffs, and at least one seems similar to the initial version in newsdiffs. Probably newsdiffs monitors the news articles only for short time. Also, NY Times’ website may send different versions of the same article to different readers.