Gray Days: Three More Revealed from Latest Round of New York Times Buyouts

THE VETS ARE OPTING OUT. Yesterday, The Observer reported on eight New York Times veterans who’ve taken voluntary buyouts from

Alan Finder, 28-year veteran of the Times, has taken a buyout.

THE VETS ARE OPTING OUT. Yesterday, The Observer reported on eight New York Times veterans who’ve taken voluntary buyouts from the paper—including Metro columnist Clyde Haberman and T Magazine executive editor Andy Port—initiated by an October memo from editorial brass to the newsroom. News of who took the buyouts were announced via a series of internal tributes from the contemporaries of those leaving the paper.

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Later in the day, three more buyouts emerged: two—including celebrated business reporter Diana B. Henriques—had been reported over the weekend, and the other quietly announced on Twitter.

This afternoon, The Observer has received word of another name to add to the list: Alan Finder, a 28-year veteran of the paper. Mr. Finder’s professional history and pedigree as a journalist and editor are typical of many of those who have taken the paper up on the most recent round of buyouts: extensive, and deeply rooted in the paper’s legacy.

From his official Times biography, which doesn’t include his tour of duty as the assistant editor on the foreign affairs desk, where he was last posted (emphasis ours):

Alan Finder has been an education reporter for The New York Times since May 2005. Previously, he served as the sports enterprise editor from 1999-2005, a Metro enterprise reporter from 1994-1999, and the bureau chief at The New York Times City Hall bureau from 1992-1993. From 1986-1992, Mr. Finder covered many beats as a reporter, including City Hall, housing, labor, and transportation. He was also the acting bureau chief at The New York Times City Hall bureau from June 1986 into 1987. He joined the newspaper in August 1983 as editor of the regional page in Week in Review. He has also worked on several special projects, including a nine-part series on Mayor Koch, three projects on assessments in New York City (1987, 1990 and 1991), a two-part series on affirmative action in City contracting, and sweatshops in New York City (1995).

Additionally, earlier today, Capital New York reported on two more Times vets who’ve opted out of the paper:

  • Katy Roberts, a 30-year veteran of the paper who has handled posts such as the national editor, op-ed editor, and Week In Review editor.
  • Jody Alesandro, a 23-year veteran of the paper who has handled posts such as deputy television editor and assistant metro editor (who, as Capital NY noted, was once regarded as one of “the best writers at the Times“).

This brings the total count of known Times staffers who’ve taken the buyouts to 14.

They are:

  • George Vecsey, Sports columnist, 30-year veteran of the Times.
  • Clyde Haberman, Metro columnist, 34-year veteran of the Times.
  • Andrea Stevens, Arts reporter, a 27-year veteran of the Times.
  • Andy Port, executive editor of T Magazine, a 20-year veteran of the Times.
  • Sam Dillon, National Education correspondent, a 20-year veteran of the Times.
  • Nicholas Wade, Science reporter/editor, a 29-year veteran of the Times.
  • Barclay Walsh, News Research supervisor for the Washington Bureau, a 24-year veteran of the Times.
  • Donald Parsons, News Design editor, a 29-year veteran of the Times.
  • Diana B. Henriques, Business reporter, a 20-year veteran of the Times.
  • Eric Dash, Business reporter, an eight-year employee of the Times.
  • Bob Harris, Deputy Editor for The New York Times Book Review, a 29-year veteran of the Times.
  • Alan Finder, deputy editor for Foreign Affairs, a 28-year veteran of the Times.
  • Katy Roberts, Room For Debate columnist and editor, a 30-year veteran of the paper.
  • Jody Alesandro, former deputy Television and deputy Metro editor, a 23-year veteran of the paper.

Some quick numbers:

  • Those 14 names account for a total of 351 combined years of experience at the paper.
  • The tenure of those taking the buyout at the paper is, on average, 25 years of service with the Times.

When the memo went around to the newsroom in October, Times executive editor Jill Abramson noted the number of those expected to take the buyouts to be “fewer than 20.”

Capital New York also had a source familiar with the buyout negotiations between the paper and the Newspaper Guild of New York, a union, who pinned the number of those taking the buyouts from the Guild’s ranks within the Times (“about 1,000”) at a dozen, and detailed the buyout package as well:

Guild members were eligible for a more lucrative package than non-union members: “three weeks of severance per year, capping at a maximum of two years worth of salary” versus “two weeks of pay per year of service, with a maximum of one year in salary,” according to Abramson’s memo.

The Observer spoke with one longtime Times vet who recently left the paper, who explained that a rumor currently going around the newsroom is that this round of buyouts has initiated some gloomy times within the paper, echoing those of the last package of buyouts in 2009, which yielded 74 voluntary buyouts—including some brand-name columnists—and 26 not-so-voluntary layoffs.

Recently-departed Times CEO Janet Robinson’s departure—and the news of her post-retirement $4.5M “consulting fee”—didn’t help things, the source explained. “I talked to a couple of friends Friday night, and they we’re gasping—just really, really stunned, and really upset— about Robinson’s $4.5M consulting contract, and how much money she’s taken.” This follows in suit with what they saw as a longstanding culture of the paper’s brass traditional failure at “making people feel appreciated,” they noted. “There was the paycut in ’09. Now, there are still so few raises. And the rumor is that there’s going to be another round of buyouts coming up next year.”

“Morale is about as low as it’s ever been.”

The Times‘ damage control efforts weren’t assisted when, yesterday, a technical flub revealed the company’s unloading of the Times’ Regional Media Group—16 four-to-five-digit-circulation papers spread mostly around the southeastern United States, with three in California—to the Halifax Media Group, which was before news of Times managing editor Dean Baquet taking public shots at Chicago Tribune editor Gerould Kern was reported by Jim Romenesko yesterday, as well.

A spokesperson for the Times declined to comment on the rumor of another round of voluntary buyouts being offered to the newsroom in the coming year. As for Mr. Finder’s taking up of the buyout package, the spokesperson noted that the Times does not comment on personnel matters.

[Know any more about the buyouts? We’d love to hear it.] | @weareyourfek

Gray Days: Three More Revealed from Latest Round of New York Times Buyouts