There are more than a few oddities in a story today by NYT‘s Public Editor Margaret Sullivan, and enough ego to go around. If Politico‘s inflated internal memos scream extreme swagger, the NYT isn’t far behind.
“Don’t allow the turmoil in the news business make you forget just how good we are, and that we are here to break big stories and ask hard questions of the powerful. Our coverage remains fabulous — and our goals for the coming year are very clear,” wrote Executive Editor Dean Baquet in a memo that was subsequently published by Sullivan in a Tuesday column.
By December, 2014, more than 100 fabulous NYT employees had been laid off or were taking buyouts.
What’s peculiar about this memo is that in her lede, Sullivan reports that Baquet didn’t object to her running his memo. Which means, she asked. Isn’t a public editor supposed to not care what her employers think? Why even ask permission? More fitting would’ve been to say that Baquet didn’t try to block her from running it. Who cares what Baquet thinks about her running it? Let him punch a wall if he gets upset about it. What matters most, is did he try to stop her?
Baquet goes on to say that the NYT will soon hire new journalists to fill in the gaps of those who were forced out. Wait…WHAT? One can safely assume these new hires will be bargain hires. He says there will be internal hires to fill “important” jobs and they will “judiciously” bring outsiders into the fold.
He reasons, “I know it seems incongruous to hire after reducing the staff. But if we stop bringing in new talent we run the risk of missing a generation of future stars.”
To help save the paper from future destruction, they’re redesigning the magazine, supposedly increasing the accessibility of their videos, and creating an “Audience Development Department.” From his memo, it’s almost impossible to understand what the hell this even is, but Baquet says in the two months since they’ve started focusing on audience, they’ve increased their readership by 20 percent. For instance, he says their Cooking app has been a “huge success.”
By the way, he says he can’t guarantee more cuts aren’t on the horizon. “No modern editor can,” he ominously writes.