“Our goal is to significantly shift the balance of editors to reporters at the Times, giving us more on-the-ground journalists developing original work than ever before,” Sr. Editors wrote in a memo.
Newspapers have editors for several reasons. Evaluating which stories make the publication and which don’t, assignments for reporters and checking the clarity and accuracy of content. Some editors also create content, especially breaking news stories. Smaller outfits combine multiple editorial roles into single positions.
Replacing editors with journalists has two implications. First, online readership is the focus of the Times leadership. And second, oversite is not as important as content.
In print publications, stories might not make a morning release due to space – a concern not as relevant in the infinite number of pages of an online news website. Careful attention is surely given to the front page and section heads, but packing in a few extra stories isn’t going to hurt anything. Managing or Associate editors usually take on these tasks.
Copy-editors perform one of the most critical roles in a newsroom if its credibility is to be preserved. Reviewing copy from journalists, authors and writers to ensure factual accuracy ensures that readers aren’t the ones left fact-checking the stories – something becoming more common in recent months.
Reducing oversite while increasing content could be dangerous for an outlet dealing with credibility issues.
The New York Times has been publishing weakly-sourced attacks on the Trump administration for months – stories that should have been pushed back on by editors as not credible. Reducing the number of editors isn’t going to improve their track record, but that hasn’t hurt the outlet’s online subscription numbers.
Neither the MarketWatch report nor the Times memo relayed what editorial staff they are pushing out. It’s doubtful that they would hire an additional 100 journalists and reduce the assignment desk which points to copy and news editorial staff.