Editors Sent a Scathing Letter to the Heads of the Department in Protest
A game of tit for tat has begun within the inner workings of The New York Times as editors facing buyouts and potentially layoffs down the line respond to a letter explaining the situation with a letter of their own.
“Our goal is to significantly shift the balance of editors to reporters at The Times, giving us more on-the-ground journalists developing original work than ever before,” read the first note from Executive Editors Dean Baquet and Joseph Kahn.
“Our future depends on stories like the one about Bill O’Reilly’s payouts to settle sexual harassment claims, as well the daily drumbeat of exclusives from the White House, our investigative and explanatory videos, the climate and graphics team’s Antarctica blockbuster, Metro’s powerful dissection of the city’s jails, the deep look into the dysfunction at Uber, our chart-topping podcast The Daily, and the visual-first storytelling that has become a regular feature of our International report.”
The note continued on to praise the editors and explain how the number of editors at the moment is redundant and a vestige of the old ways in the newspaper business, where print was still very much the No. 1 source of revenue and one small error would be forever immortalized on paper, whereas the digital age allows for real-time corrections.
But the editors who were facing the buyouts, which would cull about half of their current number, responded in kind with a letter, though this one was a little more removed from polit.
“Dear Dean and Joe,” the letter begins. “We have begun the humiliating process of justifying our continued presence at The New York Times. We take some solace in the fact that we have been assured repeatedly that copy editors are highly respected here.
“If that is true, we have a simple request. Cutting us down to 50 to 55 editors from more than 100, and expecting the same level of quality in the report, is dumbfoundingly unrealistic. Work with us on a new number. We abhor your decision to wipe out the copy desk. But as we continue this difficult transition, we ask that you sharply increase the available positions for the 109 copy editors, as well as an unknown number of other staff members, who have effectively lost their jobs as a result of your actions.”
The New York Times has been plagued by financial issues since the beginning of the digital age, where translating online views into ad revenue has proven difficult. This is another in a long string of staff reductions that has many concerned about the future of one of the largest publications in the world.
“New York Times ends its traditional copy desk,” The Washington Post, May 31, 2017.
“New York Times copy desk to top editors: ‘You have turned your backs on us’,” The Poynter Institute, June 28, 2017.