The NewsGuild of New York, the union representing The New York Times staffers, told members in a newsletter this morning that it will fight The Times’ proposed 20 percent reduction in photo desk staff via buyout.

“As the Times makes changes to become a more ‘visually oriented’ news source, it is simply illogical to buy out (or ultimately lay off) one-fifth of the photo editors,” the newsletter says, noting that the photo department has earned five Pulitzer Prizes in the past four years. “These changes will undoubtedly be extremely damaging to one of the most revered photo departments in the world.”

The Times told staff at the end of May that the paper would cut its editorial staff by offering buyouts.

According to the NewsGuild letter, The Times has experimented with new photo editing models, including having reporters and text editors select photos. Those attempts were deemed “untenable” in the near-term, according to the NewsGuild, but the plan? The business model? will be revisited.

The letter also notes that “the majority” of photo editors won’t work on stories from start to finish, diminishing their creative input, and says the Times may also cut its “already reduced” staff of 16 photographers.

“Our photographers and photo editors are the best in the business,” NewsGuild President Grant Glickson said in the letter. “It makes no sense to severely damage the artistic value of our news reports to save a few dollars.”

The proposed restructuring comes as the Times appears to be strengthening its financial position. Readers have rallied around the paper since the election, increasing its paid print and digital subscriptions to more than 3 million.


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