Working Editors Were Recently Halved, Prompting the Standoff
The New York Times had editors walk out after the newspaper decided to reduce the number of editors to half via buyouts, bringing the total down from 100 to about 50 or 55.
Before the walkout, both The New York Times and the editors had exchanged letters. The one from The New York Times was far more hopeful, attempting to diffuse the tension surrounding the buyouts, while the one from the editors was—as you’d expect—more hostile, complaining about the burden that the remaining editors will face in terms of taking on larger workloads with fewer resources.
“New York Times editors, reporters and staff will come together to leave the newsroom and their offices in protest of management’s elimination of copy editors,” reads the NewsGuild of New York’s announcement preceding the walkout.
“After a year and a half of uncertainty about their futures, New York Times editors and staff have expressed feelings of betrayal by management. The staff has been offered buyouts and if a certain number of buyouts is not reached, layoffs will ensue for the editorial staff and potentially reporters as well.”
This stands in sharp contrast with the note the editors received earlier.
“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.
All this comes on the back of record-breaking The New York Times subscriptions as Donald Trump has proved a great boon for the paper. In fact, he is often known for calling it a “failing” enterprise despite, ironically, having boosted its sales with his presidency.
Still, the company is a far cry from its earlier days of profitability, which have eluded most legacy print publications since the digital revolution in online media. Advertising dollars are still meager in the digital realm compared to what they were back in the dominant age of print.
The New York Times also employs more editors than its rivals, the company said, and will continue to do so even with this reduction, justifying the move and believing that journalistic quality will not suffer as a result of the mass buyouts.
The New York Times was willing to work with the editors, potentially leading to some of those jobs being saved.
“New York Times staff to stage protest over job cuts,” The Hill, June 29, 2017.