The New York Times has a staff rebellion on its hands, with an editor declaring in an email to staffers that his section had “lost its footing” and was in need of “urgent” change to meet the demands of the new digital era.
Cliff Levy, the metro desk editor, already had announced Tuesday in a tweet that he was offering voluntary buyouts to staffers in anticipation of changes.
The News Guild of New York came to the defense of the more than 40 journalists in Levy’s section in a memo to members late Thursday calling the “voluntary” buyouts “an unexpected threat to our journalism and our jobs.”
“This public fragging of journalists by a Times manager with a manufactured narrative of staff obstinacy — should make every decent member of management cringe,” the guild said. “It has been met with disgust by rank-and-file journalists across the newsroom.”
The New York Post reported a town hall meeting with Times executive editor Dean Baquet was scheduled for Friday afternoon. The guild memo said government public officials had commented on Levy’s email.
“Given the shocking developments of recent days in the metro department, we urge members to make every effort to attend,” the guild said.
The call for change comes amid the Times’ increasing emphasis on its digital presence amid a general decline in print newspaper circulation across the industry.
“My overall judgement is that Metro has lost its footing and needs urgent and fundamental change,” Levy told staffers. “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.”
He expressed enthusiasm about “helping to usher in a new digital and audience-focused Metro” but realized “this approach might not be for everyone.”