July 19, 2016

At least 49 journalists at The New York Times have accepted a standing buyout offer from newsroom leadership and will leave the paper in the coming months.

The Times, which has a newsroom headcount of about 1,300, announced in May it would offer buyouts to an unspecified number of employees as part of a digitally focused reorganization.

Among those changes: A shift away from “commodity coverage” (boilerplate news that’s easy to reproduce), a revised plan for covering New York City, more visual stories and a new copy editing workflow that relies on a central desk.

The Times offered buyouts in 2014 and again the following year in a limited capacity when the paper restructured its video unit.

Many employees who took this year’s buyout are reporters and writers rather than from the editing ranks, according to The News Guild of New York:

About half of the buyout applicants are reporters, domestic correspondents, columnists or critics. The prospect of the universal copy desk apparently did not have a significant impact on people’s decision-making, as only nine copy editors took the buyout.

The deadline to apply for buyouts was July 15.

Two employees of the Times’ Los Angeles bureau have already announced their departures from the newspaper: Michael Cieply, who covered the entertainment business for the Times, took the buyout and became executive editor of Deadline. Monica Almeida, a photographer in The New York Times’ Los Angeles bureau, also accepted the buyout, according to LAObserved.

William C. Rhoden, the “Sports of the Times” columnist for The New York Times, announced in a column Sunday he plans to accept the New York Times buyout.

The following employees have also accepted buyouts, according to a source at The New York Times. Each confirmed their departure with Poynter or announced the news on social media.

  • Harvey Araton, sports columnist
  • Walt Baranger, senior editor for news operations
  • Nicole Bengiveno, photographer
  • Jan Benzel, Sunday metropolitan section editor
  • Erik Eckholm, national correspondent
  • Susan Edgerley, deputy food editor
  • Jeff Gordinier, food writer
  • Tamar Lewin, national correspondent
  • Mireya Navarro, housing reporter
  • Elisabeth Rosenthal, correspondent
  • Ben Ratliff, music critic
  • Bruce Weber, obituary writer
  • Megan Thee-Brenan, news surveys
  • Dalia Sussman, polling
  • Jeffrey Reed, news assistant
  • Carl Nelson, night sports editor

The buyouts are likely just the beginning of larger staff reductions at the Times, according to several reports from earlier this year. Last month, a story in Vanity Fair claimed that “at least 200” staffers would be cut early next year; The New York Post reported in April that “a few hundred staffers” would be laid off in the second half of this year.

In April, the Times announced the elimination of editing and production operations in Paris, a move The New York Post reported would result in “up to 70” lost jobs.

In the late aughts to early 2010s, The New York Times offered buyouts four times in a five-year span.

In an email to Poynter last week, the Times declined to comment on the buyout process. Liz Spayd, The Times’ public editor, speculated on Twitter Wednesday that the buyout count was “probably not enough.”

Correction: A previous version of this story inaccurately said The New York Times announced the closure of its Paris bureau. In fact, the newspaper eliminated its editing and printing operations there. Thanks to Ryan Weber for pointing out the error.

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