TO: James, Katie, Jim, A.G., Dean, Mark and Meredith on June 5, 2020 at 8am EST
In solidarity with our newsroom and business-side colleagues, we as non-editorial New York Times employees will virtually walk out Friday, June 5, 2020.
We thank our colleagues working on Publishing tools whose sick-out action on Thursday inspired our action for Friday.
We affirm the concerns our editorial colleagues in Newsroom and Opinion have already shared: that publishing the Op-Ed piece by Tom Cotton endangered our staff—especially those on the ground reporting and our Black colleagues broadly—as well as people participating in protests. As non-editorial employees of the company, we are typically circumspect about expressing dissatisfaction with decision-making that affects our published content, but we feel that this particular circumstance warrants our action. We are saddened that the organization and tools we have endeavored to build and grow were used to publish this piece.
Yesterday, AG spoke to a standard that the Times applies when deciding whether to publish an Op-Ed, requiring that it be an “accurate, good-faith exploration of the issues of the day.” In this, our publisher acknowledges that the Times implicitly confers some level of legitimacy to an Op-Ed simply by choosing to publish it. We share the view expressed by many of our colleagues in the Opinion and News organizations that the Tom Cotton piece fails to meet the standard that AG indicated, and that publishing it was a mistake.
We believe deeply in the mission of the Times and in our contribution to that mission. At this moment, we believe that mission is best served if our leadership listens to the concerns that all of us—throughout the organization—have raised and acts accordingly: now is not the time for doubling-down or for platitudes. Addressing this mistake and its consequences is more consistent with the Times’ mission and values than continuing to defend it.
We support the Guild’s demands for The Times to take the following actions:
- A commitment to the thorough vetting, fact-checking, and real-time rebuttal of Opinion pieces, including seeking perspective and debate from across the desk's diverse staff before publication.
- An editor's note—or ideally, a fully reported follow-up—examining the facts of Cotton's Op-Ed.
- A commitment that Cotton's Op-Ed not appear in any future print edition.
- Staff shortages on the Community team should be addressed immediately, as readers need an opportunity to express themselves.
We have seen AG’s Slack comment from late last night and we’re glad to see leadership is beginning to take some of the actions above. We hope that you will adopt all of them and more. We look forward to rigorous dialogue, substantive change, and clear standards within the organization for what does and does not pass muster for publication on our print pages and digital products. We, and the public, are watching.
400+ employees (and counting)