December 7, 2022

Things could get a little dicey later this week at The New York Times. The Times NewsGuild, which represents about 1,450 employees, has warned management that they will walk out for 24 hours starting Thursday if a new contract is not reached.

Kevin Draper, a Times sports reporter, told Vanity Fair’s Charlotte Klein, “We are all operating under the assumption that we are walking out on Thursday.”

Negotiations are continuing, but Klein reports what contingency plans are being put in place if there is a walkout. She writes, “Since Friday, there have been a series of meetings to prepare for the work stoppage, according to a Times editor. Some managers are looking into how to pull more stories off the wires to fill gaps in the report and asking people individually whether they plan to work on Thursday, according to two Times reporters.”

Klein also wrote that various staffers have been asked to file stories early or do advance work, like you might see during holiday schedules.

In a statement to The Poynter Report, Times spokesperson Danielle Rhoades Ha said, “While we are disappointed that the NewsGuild is threatening to strike, we are prepared to ensure the Times continues to serve our readers without disruption.”

Axios’ Sara Fischer wrote last week, “The two parties have been at odds for more than a year and a half over a slew of issues, most notably wage increases. Those tensions have hit a boiling point heading into the holiday season.”

Rhoades Ha’s statement said, “We remain committed to working with the NYT NewsGuild to reach a contract that we can all be proud of. Our current wage proposal offers significant increases. The majority of members of the bargaining unit would earn 50 percent or more in additional earnings over the life of the new contract than they would have if the old contract had continued. Moreover, our accompanying medical and retirement proposals offer sustainable, best-in-class options for Guild members.”

Fischer, however, wrote, “A big part of the union’s argument has long been that the Times’ management has refused to bring adequate wage increase proposals to the negotiating table, despite the fact that the Times is doing better financially than it has in many years and continues to increase dividend payouts to shareholders.”

It all could be coming to a head this week.

Draper told Klein the union just didn’t go from “zero to walkout.” He told Klein, “I would prefer to just be doing my job on Thursday. (But) if they are not moving on hundreds of people writing them emails, thousands sending them a petition about return to office, and dozens of bargaining sessions, it felt like something a little bigger was needed, and that’s how we arrived at the current moment of potentially walking out Thursday.”

Stay tuned.

All the advertising that’s fit to print

More from the Times. If you went to the homepage of The New York Times website on Tuesday, you were immediately hit with a rather large advertisement by General Electric. Wait, there’s more. As Axios’ Sara Fischer reported, Tuesday’s print version of the Times was flooded with ads by GE.

Fischer wrote, “It’s the first time in the paper’s 171-year history that any advertiser has gotten to own all of The Times’ print real estate exclusively — in addition to most of its premier digital advertising real estate.”

The print product had 22 full-page color ads from GE, plus five partial page ads. The print version of the Times is delivered to 333,000 subscribers, and is sold on newsstands throughout the country. GE also had prominent ads on the desktop and mobile home pages, “The Daily” podcast and the Times’ morning and afternoon newsletter briefings.

Fischer wrote, “The partnership represents a shift at The Times in the last ten years from selling pages ad hoc to building big, interactive marketing campaigns for brands that are highly produced and can earn their own coverage. …  The seven-figure campaign centers on GE’s core message of focus, as it begins a plan to split into three publicly-traded companies: GE HealthCare, GE Aerospace and GE Vernova (energy).”

BuzzFeed cuts

More grim journalism news on Tuesday. BuzzFeed announced it is cutting 12% of its staff — about 180 employees.

In an email to staff, CEO Jonah Peretti wrote, “In order for BuzzFeed to weather an economic downturn that I believe will extend well into 2023, we must adapt, invest in our strategy to serve our audience best, and readjust our cost structure.”

Peretti also wrote, “I want all of you, but especially those that are receiving difficult news today, to know that these changes do not reflect on the good work that these employees have done over the years to build our company and our brands.”

Variety’s Todd Spangler has many more details about BuzzFeed’s business situation, as well as the entire memo sent out by Peretti.

I just mentioned how it was “more grim news.” The cuts at BuzzFeed come a week after CNN and Gannett laid off at least two hundred employees each.

Strong segment

Deion Sanders speaks after being introduced as the new head football coach at the University of Colorado on Sunday. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Whenever Bomani Jones has something to say, I’m interested in listening. The longtime ESPN journalist and podcaster consistently has thoughtful and thought-provoking commentary — not just on sports, but on the societal issues surrounding sports.

On Tuesday, Jones appeared on CNN and talked about football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders, who left his job as head football coach at Jackson State, a Historically Black College or University (HBCU), to take the head coaching job at the University of Colorado.

Appearing on “CNN This Morning,” Jones said his issue wasn’t that Sanders left one job for another, but more about how he presented himself when he took the Jackson State job two years ago.

Jones said, “I don’t judge him for taking the job at Colorado. They probably increased his salary by something like 15 times. I totally get that. It all makes sense. But what he did was something that college coaches do all the time, which is, you have to sell people four-year, 10-year plans when your plan is only one year at a time.”

Jones continued, “So he came in, and he sold a long-term vision for what was going on at Jackson State, but his goals and ambitions were always to be a Power 5 head coach. My take has always been, he went to Jackson State primarily because he wanted to be a head coach but didn’t want to ever be anybody’s assistant coach. So he had to find somebody that would give him a job and make him a head coach so he could have that on his resume and then he could take that to try and get the job that he actually wanted. Jackson State was the place that could do it, and he did a lot of good work while he was at Jackson State, but all the bigger grandiose notions of what he was doing for somebody else, no, it was what it always is. He did it for Deion, and that’s fine, as long as you don’t tell us you’re doing it for somebody else.”

It was a strong segment, with especially good follow-up questions from co-hosts Don Lemon and Kaitlan Collins.

When asked what Sanders could have done differently or better, Jones said, “Well, I wouldn’t have come in in the first place and said that God sent me here to fix HBCUs. And God decided that in the middle of it you were supposed to leave? It’s like I’ve said, maybe God wants 10 percent of five (million) and not 10 percent of 375 (thousand). If God could do math, I could understand why it is. He sold a dream and then walked out on the dream. People have a right to be critical of that. I also would have taken the job at Colorado. It’s not a judgment of the fact that he took the job. But this is not in line with what he told us all these years.”

Click here to check out Jones’ entire appearance on CNN. And nice job by “CNN This Morning” for talking about such an interesting topic.

Media tidbits

Hot type

Esquire’s Jeff Gordinier with “How I Learned to Love Jazz Fusion, the Worst Music in the World.”

New York Times film critics Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott with “Best Movies of 2022.”

ESPN’s Seth Wickersham with “Andrew Luck finally reveals why he walked away from the NFL.” (Note: you have to be an ESPN+ subscriber to read.) However, you don’t need a subscription to check out the “ESPN Daily” podcast about Wickersham’s story on Luck. If you’re an NFL fan, you’ll really enjoy it.

More resources for journalists

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Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
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