Why Did NYTimes’ THE DAILY Podcast Feel Like It Had to Record a Manufactured Border Swim?

Jan 14, 2019
9:38 AM

Hey, we get it. Reporting from the U.S.-Mexico border is important, especially during this government shutdown and false claims of “national emergency.” And we understand that having such an influential podcast like “The Daily” from the New York Times traveling down to report from border is a bold move. But as the following clip shows from Monday’s broadcast, recording a manufactured border crossing for the sake of “reporting” is not the way to go. You can listen to the entire podcast here, but near the beginning of the podcast, Times Mexico correspondent Azam Ahmed and “The Daily” producer Annie Brown literally recording themselves as they swim the Río Grande from Brownsville, Texas, to Matamoros, Mexico, and cross back.

We understand that this clip is just part of the bigger series, but still. Why did the show decide to lead its series with this? What was the need for this type of reporting?

Journalists are never supposed to inject themselves into a story, and the fact that “The Daily” makes it seems so, not only speaks to the privilege behind its intent, but also severely minimizes actual people who have traveled miles on an arduous journey, fleeing violence and poverty. It shifts the focus from reality to manufactured journalism for the purpose of listens and clicks, which is never wise.

It is sensationalist, exploitative and just plain wrong.

And sadly, this is not the first time this type of reporting has occurred. Who can forget when Jorge Ramos pulled off a similar stunt in 2014?

We will be really clear on this one: crossing the border is not a reporting game. Why didn’t “the Daily” use its array of resources to actually lead and feature REAL stories from the border? Why start with their own people? What message was it trying to send its listeners?

This is parachute reporting at its worst, and we would expect “The Daily” to recognize this and fix this.

Just remove that part of the show and offer a sincere apology. (Spare us the, “we are sorry if our reporting offended any of you” statement.) And learn from this. Be better journalists.

By the way, we asked “The Daily” host Michael Barbaro why record such a manufactured border crossing in the first place.

Here is the first tweet he shared with us.

This was our response to that:

And there is more to consider:

(h/t to @Omar_fromPR)