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On 10/17, The New York Times posted a video that made a baseless claim about PVC - without citing any source to support it. 

The NYT also defied its own journalism responsibility to ensure balance by failing to include any comment from the PVC industry. 

We reached out privately with a letter to the NYT’s Executive Producer of VR, Ms. Marcelle Hopkins, addressing our concerns. But she ignored us. 

So we’re posting that letter here to ensure viewers have the facts. 

November 2, 2017

Ms. Marcelle Hopkins
Executive Producer, VR
The New York Times
620 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10018

Dear Ms. Hopkins,

A recent video installment of the New York Times Daily 360 series [“Ride a Weather Balloon Into (Near) Space”; 10/17] misleads viewers by irresponsibly claiming a connection between PVC production and the earth’s ozone layer – without identifying any source to support it.

The New York Times ignored basic journalism standards by failing to provide the public with any substantive facts to defend this claim. Instead, the narrator cites a mysterious and unnamed “study” to validate the assertion. What’s more, the New York Times defied its obligation to provide viewers with proper context and balance, which would have enabled them to evaluate the statement’s legitimacy based on a totality of the facts.  Instead, the narrator blindly makes the allegation, and falsely expects New York Times viewers to simply believe it at face value.

That doesn’t cut it, because readers and viewers of online news content demand more – and deserve more – from organizations that wish to be viewed with even a modicum of credibility.  

At issue is the narrator’s assertion that “a longstanding hole in the ozone layer had begun to close, but a recently released study found that new chemicals used for paint stripping and in PVC may set the process back by several decades.” That’s as specific as it gets. The information is presented as fact, yet the Times neglected to reveal the source of this information, or the chemical in question. Beyond these glaring omissions, no one from the New York Times reached out to the Vinyl Institute, the leading industry representative of U.S. PVC producers, to offer an opportunity to address or dispute the claim.

This isn’t just bad journalism – it’s a failure of the Times to uphold its own basic commitment to “truth” in journalism, to, “whatever the medium, tell our audiences the complete, unvarnished truth as best we can learn it.” This unfounded allegation about PVC production fails to meet that standard, and in doing so does a disservice to Times readers. As such, we ask the section time-stamped :50-:58 be immediately removed from the video, so that viewers are not further deceived by these misleading statements regarding PVC material.


Susan Wade
Vice President of Marketing and Communications
The Vinyl Institute