Sunday, October 14, 2018

New York Times reportedly roiled by ‘staff rebellion’ - Thomas Lifson

by Thomas Lifson

Now that Pinch Sulzberger and his stuffed moose are gone... maybe a safe space room with coloring books and puppies to hug?

The arch-rival of the New York Times, the New York Post, gleefully reports:
The New York Times is scrambling to quell a staff rebellion at its metro desk after the section’s editor, Cliff Levy, unleashed a blistering email to staffers last week, saying the section had “lost its footing” and was in need of “urgent” change.
The News Guild of New York, which represents the 40-plus journalists in the section, called Levy’s memo a “public fragging” by Times management and said his offer of “voluntary” buyouts as the section became more web-focused was “an unexpected threat to our journalism and our jobs.”

At issue is the lack of emphasis on the digital edition, as this earlier report on the memo indicated:
“Our department remains grounded in a print approach and a print sensibility, often seemingly clinging to the idea that longstanding practices should be enough to get by in the digital era,” Levy wrote.
He said the journalists in the section “must think much more intensely about how we are engaging readers (and listeners and viewers) on our digital platforms.”
“In evaluating your work, I will be focusing much more on the ability of metro reporters and editors to engage audiences,” Levy added.
And then came the kicker: “We’ll be offering buyouts for Guild-represented reporters and editors who have been on Metro for at least one year,” he said.
Almost uniquely (the Wall Street Journal is the other major exception) among the nation’s newspapers, the Times has managed to draw significant revenue from the online subscription model. In this necessary transition – necessary because print circulation and ad revenue are steadily and steeply declining – the Times has benefitted from becoming the de facto leader of the anti-Trump faction. Trump haters across the nation are able to gorge themselves on a daily diet of anti-Trump articles, and I suspect that this is behind the growth in online subscriptions.

The metro section, concentrating on local news, probably does not get as many clicks from digital subscribers as the political, international, and other sections of the paper that are more able to marinate readers  daily in Trump hatred.

The imperative to “engage readers” means getting them to share material with others via email and social media posting, as well as contribute to the comments sections.

Making the crisis more acute is the absence of the stuffed moose that former publisher Pinch Sulzberger used to bring to staff meetings. Back in the days when the Jayson Blair scandal was rocking the Times, as Seth Mnookin reported in his book Hard News: (hat tip: Gawker)

The Sulzberger dynasty, which has kept the leadership of the Times a hereditary monarchy even longer than Kim dynasty has ruled North Korea, needs to come up with something to soothe the freaked-out journalists. Maybe a safe space room with coloring books and puppies to hug.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Thomas Lifson


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

No comments:

Post a Comment