According to a New York Times staffer who spoke to Gawker, the first major newsroom layoffs at the Times didn't surprise the 200 employees who got the news this morning from executive editor Bill Keller at his annual "Throw Stuff At Bill" meeting. "In some ways it was anticlimactic," the staffer said, noting that "it's stunning" how many Timesers sit around on their hands all day. Funny, this stuns us not at all! During the meeting, Keller mentioned the crummy economy and industry as a reason for the cuts. He also spent a good deal of time discussing how the Times could beat Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal, or, as Keller put it today, "The New York Times Lite." Ouch. "We would be fools to underreact or to overreact," Keller was said to pronounce. "We cannot win by being defensive, we cannot curl up and act that way." Oooh! It's a real-live newspaper war!
"We knew this was coming," the insider told us. Maybe it was the way publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. stood with his "hands locked together in this pensive way," that clued staffers streaming into the shiny new red-seated TimesCenter auditiorium about what Keller might tell them. Or maybe it was just common sense-after all, the Times has held out longer than most when it comes to layoffs.
"When it was time for questions, no one asked [Keller] about the cuts," we were told. "People asked him about the new building, why it was so cold on 4th floor and the website. It was a little weird to have this announcement in our brand-new building, in this luxurious new arena." Publishing reporter Richard Perez-Pena (who despite his last name, is Jewish, much to the amusement of his friends) was the only one with the nerve to ask Keller what he meant when he said "newsroom leadership will share in the sacrifice." Keller didn't give an answer.Earlier today, Keller announced 100 newsroom positions will be eliminated at the Times by the end of this year, primarily through attrition and buyouts.