Keller: NYT Furloughs Won’t Hurt Reporting

Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times, says the paper’s 5% pay cut and plans for 10 furlough days for all employees will not result in decreased news coverage.

In a note to E&P, Keller declared: “One of my colleagues sent me an e-mail saying, ‘The solution to a bad economy can’t be less journalism.’ I certainly agree.

“It’s hard to be very specific about how this will play out before we have even entered into serious negotiations with the Guild. (I suppose it’s even possible the Guild could decide to take the pay cut in exchange for something other than time off, or make the days off optional, though I don’t expect that.),” he added. “Assuming we end up with everyone entitled to ten days off, we’ll have to organize it very, very carefully to spread the absence and aim it for times when we don’t anticipate big news.”

Keller also looked at the time off as essentially amounting to one day per month, noting “The Times is a far more collaborative newsgathering operation than it was in the past — you can see that in the joint bylines and contributor credits — so people are accustomed to covering for one another. It’s one day a month, roughly, which we should be able to manage. The important thing to me is, when the recession ends and advertising rebounds, we’ll be ready — not gutted by serial staff cuts.”

Asked about his own time off, Keller says he does not plan to be out of touch: “As for me, I’m not usually out of touch when I take time off. Nobody confiscates my Blackberry. But I’m surrounded by great editors who are perfectly capable of running the place when I’m away.”