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10 Jan, 2012 23:20

New York Times employees revolt

The New York Times boasts all the news that’s fit to print, but reporters at the iconic outlet are saying that the high-ups at the paper could stand to squeeze a lot more into something else: their benefit packages.

Nearly 600 staffers employed by the Times have signed their names to an open letter addressed to Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. that asks the exec to reexamine the company’s recent policies regarding pensions and health care packages for foreign citizen employees in NYT bureaus overseas.While Sulzberger has authorized a freeze that will affect the journalists who report from dangerous locales on the daily, departing chief executive Janet Robinson is being rewarded handsomely for her time at the Times with a severance package that added perks. “One of our colleagues in senior management recently announced her retirement from the paper, which is reported to include a very generous severance and retirement package, including full pension benefits,” write the letter’s signees. That goodbye package to Robinson includes $15 million in bonuses and an incoming $4.5 million consulting pay for assisting with operations in the coming year. These gracious gifts come, however, after Robinson nearly nuked the credibility that the Times’ developed over the course of several generations. During her tenure with the Times, the paper saw its stock prices drop from $40 to $8 in only seven years’ time.Meanwhile, those overseas who put their lives on the line recently had their pensions frozen with only one week’s notice. Cuts to the staffers’ independent health insurance plans have also been authorized by Sulzberger. “All of us who work at the Times deserve to have a secured retirement; this should not be a privilege cynically reserved to senior management,” reads the open letter, which as of this publishing has managed to garner signatures from 585 staffers, including editors, reporters, photographers and assistants. “We look at how the reporters at the New York Times who really have been at a very privileged position for a long time are now beginning to experience the same thing the rest of us are,” journalist Russ Baker tells RT. Baker adds that what Times staffers are reporting on — this time from within the story — is something that is increasingly too common in America and is one of the complaints largely waged by Occupy Wall Street protesters upset with the corpocracy governing the United States today.“The media is by and large owned by and controlled by the very wealthy and corporations; we tend to forget about that,” adds Baker. “We tend to assume that these are people that are just doing stories trying to figure out what is happening. The fact of the matter is . . . they really are working for the man. They are working for the one percent of the one percent.”While the Times might be heralded as one of the last group investigative outlets in America and thus the country, Baker says that corruption and corporate rule like this is not just leading to reporters being rescinded their benefits and pensions, but is showing that favoritism on the top of the ladder of success can influence decisions, both from a human resources and editorial position.“The efforts at digging deep and the root causes of the problem in our society are always going to be somewhat limited,” says Baker.