The New York Times is scrambling to quell a staff rebellion at its metro desk after the section’s editor, Cliff Levy, unleashed a blistering email to staffers last week, saying the section had “lost its footing” and was in need of “urgent” change.
The News Guild of New York, which represents the 40-plus journalists in the section, called Levy’s memo a “public fragging” by Times management and said his offer of “voluntary” buyouts was “an unexpected threat to our journalism and our jobs.”
“This public fragging of journalists by a Times manager with a manufactured narrative of staff obstinacy — should make every decent member of management cringe,” the guild said in a late Thursday memo to its members. “It has been met with disgust by rank-and-file journalists across the newsroom.”
A town hall meeting with Times executive editor Dean Baquet was scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Friday.
Levy, as part of a digital-first push that he claimed is lacking in the metro section, said the section’s staffers were going to be offered a chance to take voluntary buyouts. Many insiders fretted they were going to get “performance appraised” out of their jobs in a looming review process under Levy.
The guild memo said unnamed public officials had commented on the move. The existence of the memo was unveiled in The Post’s Media Ink column Oct. 9.
“Government officials have already pointedly mentioned it in conversations with reporters,” the guild memo said. “Given the shocking developments of recent days in the metro department, we urge members to make every effort to attend.”