The New York Times (NYT) newsroom is reeling from today’s announcement that the company plans to cut the staff by 100.
We spoke with a Times reporter, who told us it was the timing of the layoffs that is hitting everyone the hardest. The layoffs will come at the start of December, meaning a jobless Christmas for lots of reporters.
Most of the people at the Times know the paper needs to be slimmed down, but nobody expected it would come in the middle of October. The newsroom is “stunned.”
When we asked our source if the source knew anyone that would accept the buyout, the reply came back, “Ha! Absolutely not!” If anyone at the Times wanted a buyout, they could have taken one, just 18 months ago. So, expect Bill Keller to have to make cuts.
Our source says the staff knew budgets would be tighter next year, but they didn’t expect the cuts this year. This fortells bad news for this Thursday’s third quarter earnings announcement. Otherwise, the cuts could have waited until after the holidays.
How will the Times decide who gets cut? It’s either going to be based on seniority, or it will be based on who’s performing, and working hardest. The feeling is nobody is safe. Digital people as well as people on the print side could be sacked.
We asked if the Times’ would just use the analytics they have on hand, like pageviews, to determine who should stay or who should go. Again, we were laughed at. Editors are “terrified of pageviews,” says our source. “They flirt with them, but they’re scared. They’re like a teenage girl about to lose her virginity. They’re really excited for it to happen, but at the same time scared to death of it.“