Lines are being drawn in a face-off over proposed staff cuts at The New York Times. The Newsguild of New York on Friday afternoon circulated a member email responding to a morning memo from Times managers promising a plan by the month’s end for a long-expected reduction among editors and others. “Of course, the Guild believes that downsizing—at a time when quality journalism and the New York Times has never been more important to this country—is a horrific idea,” the union memo said. Quoting Newsguild president Grant Glickson, the email said the union, which is in a contract negotiation with the Times, has asked for a sweetened buy-out package and free outplacement services for those leaving the paper.
In their morning email, Times executive editor Dean Baquet and managing editor Joe Kahn said “we expect to have more information by the end of this month about both the editing changes and a buyout program for editors and others around the newsroom.” The management memo didn’t mention the possible size of the proposed cut. And it said: “We are also investing aggressively in our journalism and will remain the best edited news organization in the world.”
In the union response, Glickson said the union had requested a meeting to discuss details of what Baquet and Kahn described as a plan to “streamline” the Times editing system.
“Our goal is to preserve meticulous text editing while meeting the demands of digital, which requires more speed and more visual storytelling,” Baquet and Kahn said in their memo.
“The very obvious problem is that in order to preserve such ‘meticulous’ editing in a speed-oriented newsroom, editors’ skills are crucial,” said the union rejoinder.