Employees of the New York Times staged a 15-minute walkout Thursday afternoon to protest plans to do away with the venerable paper’s stand-alone copy desk and “dozens of editing jobs,” per the Times itself. The protest comes as the paper attempts to shift the balance away from editing toward reporting.
Times employees represented by the NewsGuild of New York union marched around the paper’s Manhattan headquarters in New York City carrying signs with slogans like “THIS SIGN WSA NOT EDITED” and “COPY EDITORS SAVE OUR BUTS.”
Groups of copy editors and reporters joined the walkout. Both groups also sent separate letters to executive editor Dean Baquet and managing editor Joe Kahn arguing that eliminating the copy desk would reduce the paper’s quality.
“Our editors ask smart questions, engage passionately with our copy and serve as our safety nets,” the reporters wrote in their letter, which was obtained by Poynter. “Editors – and yes, that especially means copy editors — save reporters and the Times every day from countless errors, large and small.”
Baquet and Kahn wrote their own letter on Wednesday.
“We are in fact eliminating a free standing copy desk. We are not, as we have said repeatedly, eliminating copy editing,” they wrote, according to the Times. “The Times has far more editors relative to reporters or to the number of stories we publish than any of our traditional print peers or our newer digital rivals.”