New York Times begins goodbyes to departing staffers

New York | The New York Times | Poynter

At least 20 longtime journalists are leaving The New York Times to take buyouts or other opportunities. Heading to ProPublica is Sports Editor Joe Sexton, who led the team that produced "Snow Fall," a much-heralded multimedia journalism production. New York magazine's Joe Hagan spoke to Sexton about the project and its legacy:

Times culture has never produced an excess of radical thinking. With the upheavals of the digital age, though, restraint has become a luxury the paper can no longer afford. “The ways to have impact are to produce exclusive news, write memorable stories, and evince a sense of daring and fun,” says Sexton. “And if that formula fails, then we’re all in fucking trouble.” ...

“If you are not asking yourself every couple of years how to once more scare yourself to death, then you are living something of the coward’s life,” he says. “Ain’t no room for cowards in journalism at this moment in time.”

As for whether "Snow Fall," which took a dozen staffers six months to produce, will become the future of journalism at the Times, don't count on it:

During a postmortem held by [Executive Editor Jill] Abramson, publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr., and new Times CEO Mark Thompson, the executives discussed how often they could invest in a story of that scale. “My big fear,” Abramson says, “is that every proposal I get now is going to be a pitch to do a 30,000-word piece with every kind of resource the newsroom can muster.”

The Times gathered Friday to say goodbye to Sexton:

Assistant Managing Editor Jim Roberts is also leaving:

Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan, a former editor at The Buffalo News, wrote about the transition:

It is considered a given, among many in management, that every employee is replaceable. When even the most valuable staff member walks out the door, someone else takes over and does the job. Life goes on and change is good. I’m not so sure.

When the buyouts were announced, Abramson cautioned that layoffs could follow. In a memo to staff announcing the departures and a masthead reorganization, Abramson said, “In the end, we had to layoff far fewer people than we anticipated, having achieved most of our savings through the voluntary process."


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