More Than 400 Staffers Participated in The New York Times’ Newsroom Walkout

Protesting deep cuts to the copy desk

Many copy editors are slated to lose their jobs in the near future.
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More than 400 New York Times staffers kept their word and participated in a walkout to show solidarity with colleagues from the newspaper’s copy desk, which is facing cuts.

The protest began at 3 p.m. ET sharp in front of the building’s West 40th Street entrance in Midtown Manhattan. Participants walked one block uptown on Eighth Avenue before ending up at the Times’ West 41st Street entrance, where the remainder of the event took place.

Slogans including “They say cutbacks, we say fight back,” and “no editors, no peace” were chanted off-and-on for roughly 15 minutes.

Staffers held up signs with a variety of phrases, including “Our editors make The Times, The Times”; “Keep photo editors in the picture”; “This sign wsa not edited” (intentionally misspelled); and “Invest in us.”

The paper has offered buyouts to a number of editors this month, including Liz Spayd, who was named public editor in May 2016 and was supposed to remain in the role until 2018, but instead was let go in early June. Despite today’s passionate, well-attended walkout, more cuts are most certainly on the horizon.

Among the many staffers on the scene was New York Times media columnist Jim Rutenberg. Rutenberg was not just there to show support for his colleagues, but he also covered the walkout.

“Job cuts are inevitable, and the ones at the copy desk are a big deal,” said Rutenberg. “We’re in a time when all of the media is under pressure to get it right, to be really accurate and careful. We’re consistently careful here anyway, but now it’s as important as ever. It’s interesting, the bosses are not really being pollyanish about this. Their thing is: ‘It’s going to be a rough time, and we’re going to get through it, and every day we’ll have to do more with less to survive this.’”

The news media is under siege these days. So how is The New York Times, widely considered America’s newspaper of record, dealing with accusations of “fake news” from the highest office in the land? “We can’t be pulled into having a combative stance,” he said. “This is always going to be an adversarial job, and we just need to keep plugging away, which I think everyone’s doing.

“Look at this gathering. A lot of people care about this place and care about what people here do…. This is a big story as far as this paper is concerned,” Rutenberg added. “So thanks for covering it.”