A walk-out at the New York Times

The News Guild of New York says the New York Times editorial staff will leave the newsroom today in protest against job cuts. The Times reportedly is planning to slash the number of its editors from 100 to as few as 50 or 55.

According to Bloomberg, Times reporters and editors sent two letters to management decrying such a cut and asking the paper to reconsider. The letters apparently had no impact. Hence the walk-out.

The planned cuts do not extend to reporters. However, reporters will join in the work stoppage. They say that cutting the number of editors will injure them. “Editors — and yes, that especially means copy editors — save reporters and the Times every day from countless errors, large and small,” the reporters said in their letter.

At Power Line, John has built a cottage industry of reporting on New York Times corrections. If copy editors are saving the Times from “countless errors every day” and the Times cuts the number of copy editors in half, we may need to bulk up our staff just to keep track of the errors and corrections. Come to think of it, I could use a good copy editor.

It’s understandable that the Times, like any struggling business, wants to trim its staff. However, the way the Times is going about it displays disrespect for its copy editors. Indeed, as a lawyer who on occasion represented companies that undertook mass layoffs, it looks to me that the Times is near the bottom of the barrel when it comes to handling this unfortunate situation.

It is requiring all of its copy editors to resubmit applications for roles in the newsroom. Why? You would think that management knows which copy editors have what capabilities, and thus wouldn’t need to humiliate all of them by, as their letter states, “requiring them to sing for their supper.”

The Times’ contempt for its own editors is further demonstrated in an internal memo. Reportedly, it compared copy editors to dogs urinating on fire hydrants.

Many mass layoffs produce evidence that makes management look callous. Fortunately, I never had to defend a company that displayed as much contempt as this comment, if it was made, appears to.

No wonder the Times staffers say “morale is low throughout the newsroom, and. . .many of us, from editors to reporters to photo editors to support staff, are angry, embittered and scared of losing our jobs.” No wonder they decided to walk out in protest today.


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