NYT Revolt Wages On: Reporter attacks publisher in corporate email
Times science and health reporter Don McNeil sent out a scathing email to around 150 of his colleagues at the paper last month, and a copy obtained by the website Gawker reveals that the writer is, to say the least, not that amused with the recent antics of the paper’s publisher.
In McNeil’s rant as revealed by Gawker, the writer attackers Times’ publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. for fleeing the country during dismal times for the paper, leaving the rest of his staff to set sail on a “ghost ship.”
“The Times is in labor turmoil,” McNeil opens up his attack dated March 29, only to go on to add that “Journalists are openly angry,” “Even the sacred Page One meeting has had a protest” and “The company has no CEO.” Rightfully so, the Times did indeed part ways with former Chief Executive Officer Janet Robinson last year, only to offer an impressive retirement package valued at nearly $24 million after she saw the paper’s stock drop from $40 to $8 per share since she took the helm a mere seven years earlier. In the interim, Sulzberger has temporarily took over as the Times’ CEO, but a disgruntled McNeil challenges his braggadocio boss’ lackluster leadership abilities that have done little to calm the growing concerns among his staff.
Unrest among Times reporters was thought to pinnacle earlier this year when nearly 600 people on the paper’s payroll signed a letter to their publisher asking him to reexamine the company’s policies regarding pensions and health care packages for foreign employees in NYT bureaus overseas. In the three months since then, however, McNeil makes an argument that worry has only worsened. It hasn’t helped his case, argues McNeil, that Sulzberger offered no words of solace to his staffers at the memorial service for Anthony Shadid, the Times foreign correspondent that died earlier this year while on assignment.
During a time when the paper would expect their publisher to address these concerns, Sulzberger has instead taken off to the Himalaya’s to participate in a leadership workshop being offered by Michael Useem, a “management guru” who has authored several books on the topic. On the heels of internal protests and a series of problems plaguing the structure of the paper, McNeil attempts to find reason for his boss’ sudden departure.
“A Nepal trek is very Arthur, since he's a rock climber and Outward Bound tripper,” writes McNeil, “But to learn leadership? Shouldn't a 60-year-old corporate chairman already know whether he's a leader or not? Shouldn't that have been decided by age 35 or so?”
“And a trek now? In mid-crisis?” he asks.
“We put out a great newspaper every day. But outside the newsroom, at the corporate level, we're sailing on a ghost ship.”
Neither the Times nor its publisher have yet to publically address the leaked email, but Gawker reveals that an editor with the paper, Walter Baranger, responded to McNeil with warning that the staff, as disgruntled as they seem, may want to rethink lashing out at their CEO.
"Before this gets out of hand — and I may already be too late — let's throttle the sniping at Arthur,” cautions Baranger.