Staffers at the The New York Times held an afternoon walkout in protest over looming job cuts that are expected to affect copy editors. The plan to lay off copy editors was announced last month by Dean Baquet, the executive editor and Joseph Kahn, the managing editor. A buyout package will be offered to the affected employees and they will have until the 20th of July to accept the package.

Besides the employees NewsGuild of New York, a union representing most of the employees at The New York Times has also voiced its opposition to the layoff plan. Some of the staffers who participated in the walkout in support of their colleagues said that copy editors played a critical role in the newsroom since they were the ones who ensured that stories not only adhered to the style guidelines but were responsible for catching grammatical and factual errors.

Low quality

Reporters at the newspaper also sent a letter to Kahn and Baquet saying that the elimination of the standalone copy desk was not a wise move and would result in a low quality product. Top editors however insisted that the changes were only meant to streamline the process of editing and make increase the nimbleness and efficiency of the system.

“We are in fact eliminating a free standing copy desk. We are not, as we have said repeatedly, eliminating copy editing,” Kahn and Baquet wrote in response.

The planned layoffs of copy editors are not the only changes that The New York Times has been making in the newsroom of late. Towards the end of last month the newspaper announced that it was getting rid of the Public Editor role. Liz Spayd who had been named the paper’s public editor last year in May and whose tenure was to end in 2018 was let go earlier this month. Prior to the roles as the Times Public editor, Spayd had a stint as The Washington Post managing editor.

Public editor

While announcing the decision to eliminate the position of the public editor the publisher of The New York Times, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., noted that the position which serves to act as the representative of the readers had become too big to be handled by one person. One of the ways the paper is planning to enhance how readers interact with it is expanding the commenting platform to cover more articles using technology developed in conjunction with Google.