NY Times Journalists Stage 20-Minute Walkout/Coffee Break in Protest of Cuts, Refuse to Talk to Breitbart

NY Times Twitter@AdamShawNY

NEW YORK CITY — Reporters and editors at the New York Times Thursday attempted to stand up to their bosses by staging an approximately 20-minute walkout/coffee break — during which they appropriated protest songs and refused to talk to Breitbart News.

The walkout, led by the Times’ union, was in protest of cuts at the paper, that include slashing their copy editor division from 100 to approximately 50 as the paper seeks to adapt itself to the ever-changing journalistic arena.

The protest, staged at the Times’ headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, was well-attended and featured staffers carrying signs while being led in chant as they walked around the building.

“They say cutbacks, we say fight back,” was one, while another promised: “No editors, no peace.”

The protest was curiously low-energy, with many staffers looking nervous and apparently keen to get the short protest over with. It started late and ended within 20 minutes — about the length of a coffee break — at which point many staffers scurried through the doors. Many refused to talk to reporters, and those that would quickly shut down when a Breitbart News reporter identified himself as such.

“Breitbart? Oh, I can’t talk to you,” one staffer said.

Yet an air of not only nervousness but unhappiness hung over the protest. One journalist, whom Breitbart News approached for comment, when asked about the mood in the newsroom just said, “What do you think?”

It is perhaps not surprising that the mood is so glum at the Gray Lady. The print-based Times has struggled to adapt to the modern world of journalism, and the cutbacks are perhaps a recognition of the new reality that old journalism faces.

Additionally, the Times was hit by a lawsuit this week from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin after the paper published an editorial falsely linking her to the 2011 Tucson shooting. The Times eventually issued a correction, but the damage was done and the lawsuit soon followed.

Newsroom staff penned a colorful letter to management earlier this week expressing their grievances and painting a picture of devastating morale in the newsroom.

The authors called the hope that the paper could have the same level of quality with half the number of editors “dumbfoundingly unrealistic” and called the uncertainty “a cruelly drawn-out period in which we suspended major financial arrangements and life decisions, and carried an ever-growing kernel of fear.”

It goes on to describe a situation in which “morale is low throughout the newsroom, and that many of us, from editors to reporters to photo editors to support staff, are angry, embittered and scared of losing our jobs.”

A response from Executive Editor Dean Baquet and Managing Editor Joseph Kahn said they “take those concerns seriously” and intend to “monitor this transition closely.”

Adam Shaw is a politics reporter for Breitbart News based in New York. Follow Adam on Twitter: @AdamShawNY


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