Newspaper managements around the world will today be reading the long-awaited 2020 report from senior New York Times management on the paper’s continuing digital evolution. Headlines were dominated by comments on how the paper will change its digital versus print orientation, how it is aiming at boosting digital revenues to around US$800 million a year from the current US$500 million. But buried in the report is the stunning admission that for all its small L liberalism on diversity, gender equality and minority rights, the NYT is still a paper run by blokes.

The Times says it will cut its budget and eliminate an unspecified number of print-centric editing and production jobs this year, while also investing an additional US$5 million to cover the administration of Donald Trump (which naturally attracted headlines, but is a minor part of the report).

“We cannot pretend to be immune from financial pressures but we view this moment as a necessary repositioning of The Times’s newsroom, not as a diminishment,” Dean Baquet, executive editor, and Joe Kahn, managing editor, wrote in a memo to staff. Baquet told the paper’s public editor in an interview published a week ago Monday that the 2020 changes would mean a smaller newsroom. The report and the memo make it clear the reduction will come from getting rid over the paper’s overly redundant editing systems.

The Times says it will get rid of the old practice of shuffling stories from editor to editor, with each copy editor making relatively insignificant changes to each story.

Buried in the 2020 report is the very sheepish admission about the paper’s continuing “maleness’’ and lack of diversity on all levels. The report notes that there is “a perception among women that The Times is primarily run by and written by men”.

“Increasing the diversity of our newsroom — more people of color, more women, more people from outside major metropolitan areas, more younger journalists and more non-Americans — is critical to our ability to produce a richer and more engaging report,” says the memo from Kahn and Baquet, who is the paper’s first black executive editor. 

“Every open position is an opportunity to improve diversity. We should make an extra effort to broaden our lens. We should also think beyond recruiting — to career development — to ensure that we create paths for people in a variety of personal situations, including parents. When big news breaks or investigations are launched, the people running toward the action and the people sitting around the table plotting coverage should reflect the audience we seek.” — Glenn Dyer

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey