Since the Supreme Court’s ruling on abortion, some media companies have wrestled with a complex issue: how to balance their news coverage with the desire to expand their policies to protect reproductive health care for their employees.
Vox Media’s chief executive, Jim Bankoff, consulted with his top editors to make sure the corporate response to the court’s ruling would not undermine coverage. BuzzFeed’s chief executive, Jonah Peretti, who shared his “outrage” about the court’s decision in a memo to his employees, said in an interview that different teams determined the company’s editorial and corporate responses.
“It’s a very delicate balance,” said Michael Schudson, a sociologist and historian of American media. “The news organization feels a serious commitment to its own employees and their health and safety.”
Vox and BuzzFeed joined other media companies, including CNN, NBCUniversal and Condé Nast, in announcing that they would cover abortion-related travel expenses for employees. NBCUniversal’s parent company, Comcast, for example, will cover up to $4,000 per trip and up to three trips per year for employee medical travel, with an annual maximum of $10,000. Fox Corporation and The Washington Post did not respond to requests for comment on whether they plan to cover abortion-related travel.
The New York Times said on Thursday that its health care plan was being expanded to cover abortion-related travel and other procedures not available within 100 miles of an employee’s home, including gender-affirming care. The company said it was talking with unions that represent its employees to make sure that benefit was available to everyone.
“It’s our goal to make sure that everyone who works for the Times Company has equitable access to care,” said Danielle Rhoades Ha, a company spokeswoman. “We are actively working with the NewsGuild on this matter.”
Mr. Bankoff, of Vox, said he had emphasized journalistic independence in communicating the company’s expansion of reproductive health care, which now includes a reimbursement of up to $1,500 for travel-related expenses.
“Our audience is sophisticated and understands the company’s position as an employer is independent of the responsibility of our editorial networks and individual reporters,” he said.
Mr. Peretti, of BuzzFeed, said the company’s corporate and editorial operations had been separately preparing for the court’s ruling since a leak in May revealed that the court was likely to overturn Roe v. Wade.
“The leadership team that was meeting to talk about our company policy was not the same people who are in editorial meetings and discussions,” he said. “Across the company, the news was disturbing to a lot of people.”