It is a good time to be a deceitful politician or a pay-for-favors lobbyist or a crooked corporate CEO. That’s because the profession that is charged in a democracy with ferreting out such miscreants is losing some members of its “A” team.
Despite its ills and errors, The New York Times remains the best newspaper in America. But the business model to which the industry remains fanatically obsessed â€” maximize shareholder income at the expense of the quality of its product â€” is about to slip a knife into the muscle and bone of The Times‘ reporting staff.
The Times will trim its newsroom staff of 1,332 by about 100:
The cuts will be achieved â€œby not filling jobs that go vacant, by offering buyouts, and if necessary by layoffs,â€ the executive editor, Bill Keller, said. The more people who accept buyouts, he said, â€œthe smaller the prospect of layoffs, but we should brace ourselves for the likelihood that there will be some layoffs.â€ He said, â€œWe intend to move quickly, to get any cuts past us so that we do not spend a year bleeding slowly.â€
More than any other set of job cuts in the news biz, these are the most troubling. Like it or not, The Times has held fast to its reputation for credibility, accuracy and fearlessness for more than a century. Yes, it’s often too liberal. Yes, Judith Miller’s pro-Iraq reporting left some slime on the masthead. Yes, The Washington Post beat it on Watergate. And yes, The Times can be irritatingly patrician and arrogant. But it’s ability to latch onto a story and extract every last dram of news is unparalleled in American journalism.