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New York Times releases internal report, revealing changes and cuts to come

NEW YORK– The New York Times revealed the findings of a sweeping, year-long internal report on Tuesday, offering a host of recommendations to make its newsroom better suited to take on the challenges of modern media — and giving a preview of what kinds of jobs will be slashed in a round of budget cuts slated for later this year.

The report, titled “Journalism That Stands Apart,” but often referred to as the 2020 report, was conducted by seven journalists at the request of Times executive editor Dean Baquet. It was released to the Times newsroom, and reported on by the newspaper itself.

Some of the recommendations are familiar to anyone currently working in the news business. The Times has effectively transitioned into the digital age, the report said, and yet, there is more work to be done. It also called for a push to improve diversity, saying the Times staff should “reflect the audience we seek.”

There were also recommendations tied specifically to the next four years; among the group’s suggested projects was a $5 million investment toward covering the administration of President-elect Donald Trump. That investment is now in process.

The report called for changes to the Times’ hiring and editing processes. The authors noted that the newsroom has hired “about 70 new people a year” as of late, with about half of those hires falling under “categories with the most direct impact on journalism: coverage leaders, reporters, videographers, graphics editors and others.”

“This pace needs to accelerate, even though doing so will increase the need for newsroom turnover given budget realities,” the authors of the report wrote, calling it “among the most important recommendations we are making.”

Coupled with that recommendation, the report’s authors were also critical of the Times’ focus on what they described “low-value line-editing, such as the moving, unmoving and removing of paragraphs.” Conversely, they said, Times journalists spend “too little on conceptual editing and story sharpening, including on questions like what form a story should take.”

In a note to staff, Baquet and Times managing editor Joe Kahn reminded the newsroom that the recommended changes will be accompanied by cuts.

“There will be budget cuts this year. We will lay out the specifics in the coming weeks and months,” they wrote. “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. … [W]e will focus cuts on the multilayered editing and production systems, a legacy of our newspaper traditions that remains much bigger and more complex than at our competitors.”

By Tom Kludt