New York Times Copyeditors Protest Impending Layoffs in Their Own Brilliant, Inimitable Fashion

Demonstrators flashed hilarious signs during a 20-minute walkout Thursday.

Photo Credit: Erika Cross /

If the New York Times aims to hold the Trump administration to account, it will be doing so with approximately half the number of copyeditors, as executive editor Dean Baquet has announced plans to lay off as many as 50 staffers.

On Thursday, employees staged a 20-minute walkout to protest the impending cuts.

The slowdown occurred following two letters sent to management by New York Times employees via the News Guild of New York, one from the copyeditors Wednesday and the other from reporters Thursday—or, as the latter prefer to be known, "those whose copy, facts and sometimes the intelligibility of a sentence or two have been hammered into shape by our friends and colleagues on the editing desks."

The copyeditors' protest signs were as witty as they were cutting, incorporating intentional typos to demonstrate their value in protecting the New York Times reporters and brand from embarrassing errors. Signs included "This sign wsa not edited," "Copy editors save our buts" and "Who do you think makes sure it's fit to print?"

In the copyeditors' letters to top management, they describe how they are, "as one senior reporter put it, the immune system of this newspaper, the group that protects the institution from profoundly embarrassing errors, not to mention potentially actionable ones."

The layoffs are said to be planned in the interest of "eliminating what the editorial management of the paper has called redundant, unnecessary layers of editing, in order to speed up the process between story conception and publication," Deadline reports.

The New York Times also recently eliminated the public editor position "in the latest buyout plan to reduce staff."

Expecting reporters to be accountable for their own copy is asking a lot, especially in a fast-paced news environment in which clarity and accuracy are desperately needed to combat the perception of "fake" and biased news.

As one senior Times staffer told Deadline, "I've never seen morale so low at the Times. ... And there's a lot of chaos in the newsroom."

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Jenny Pierson is the manager of editorial projects and programs administrator at the Independent Media Institute.