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New York Times Staffers Stage Walkout in Protest of Layoffs

Hundreds of New York Times employees staged a roughly 20-minute walkout Thursday afternoon to protest layoffs set to eliminate up to half of the paper’s copy editors.

The Times is reportedly planning to cut up to 50 of the 100 copy editing positions in an effort to modernize their operations in the digital era.

The paper calls it “perhaps the most fundamental restructuring to newsroom operations in its history,” while top editors say the layoffs are intended to make the system “more efficient and nimble.”

But copy editors and reporters at the paper sent two strongly worded letters to top management Wednesday urging them to reverse course.

“We have begun the humiliating process of justifying our continued presence at The New York Times,” the copy editors wrote to executive editor Dean Baquet and managing editor Joe Kahn.

“We worry that the errors and serious breaches of Times standards that copy editors catch each day will go unnoticed — until we are embarrassed into making corrections,” they said.

The letter added: “We only ask that you not treat us like a diseased population that must be rounded up en masse, inspected and expelled. After all, we 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.”

Staff staged the nearly half an hour walkout Thursday afternoon to drive home their concerns to management.

“Hundreds of @nytimes journalists walkout today to protest copy desk buyouts,” Nikole Hannah-Jones, a writer for New York Times Magazine, wrote on Twitter.

Video of the protest shows Times reporters holding humorously misspelled signs to illustrate the need for copy editors.

“This sign wsa not edited,” one sign read.

“We kneed are editors!” read another. “They make us look smart.”

Times senior management responded to the walkout by insisting that they were not eliminating all copy editing positions from the paper.

“We are in fact eliminating a free standing copy desk,” management wrote. “We are not, as we have said repeatedly, eliminating copy editing.”

Many of the 50 copy editors set to lose their jobs are currently applying for new positions at the paper, according to the Times.