The New York Times to Disband Its Sports Department

The New York Times announced Monday that it will disband its sports division and rely on The Athletic website to cover teams and games online and in print.

The Times’ managing editor Jo Kern and deputy managing editor Monica Drake announced the newsroom changes as “an evolution in how sports are reported.”

“We intend to focus more directly on distinctive and impactful news and corporate journalism on how sport intersects with money, power, culture, politics and society at large,” said the editor. They said in an email to The Times Newsroom Monday morning. “At the same time, we plan to scale back our newsroom coverage of games, players, teams and leagues.”

The closure of the Sports Desk, which has more than 35 journalists and editors, is a big change for The Times. The station’s coverage of games, players, and team owners, especially its Sports of the Times column, was once a staple of American sports journalism. This section explores the major American sports of the last century, including Muhammad Ali, the birth of free agency, George Steinbrenner, the Williams sisters, Tiger Woods, steroids in baseball, and the fatal effects of concussions in the National Football League. I picked up a moment and a person. .

The move marks a further integration into The Athletic’s newsroom, which The Times acquired for $550 million in January 2022, and has nearly 400 journalists covering more than 200 professional sports teams. Added publications.

The Athletic staff will now provide The Athletic’s readers with the majority of coverage on sporting events, players and leagues, marking the first appearance of The Athletic story in The Times. subscribers include online access to The Athletic, which operates separately from the Times newsroom.

Khan and Drake said the Sports Desk journalists will be reassigned to other roles in the newsroom, and no layoffs were planned. The Business Desk group covers sports money and power, and new beats covering sports are added to other sections. The move is expected to be completed by the fall.

When The Times bought Athletic, executives said the deal would help the company appeal to a wider audience. They added it to the Times’ main news site, as well as a subscription bundle that includes Cooking, Wirecutter product review service, and games.

As a business, The Athletic is not yet profitable. It reported a loss of $7.8 million in the first quarter of this year. However, the number of paid members has increased from over 1 million at the time of the acquisition to over 3 million as of March 2023.

Last November, The Times named Washington Post’s top editor Steven Ginsberg as editor-in-chief of The Athletic. In June, The Athletic laid off nearly 20 reporters and moved more than 20 others to new jobs. The station’s leaders said they would no longer assign at least one beat reporter to each sports team.

The Athletic acquisition raised questions about the future of the Times’ sports division, which houses a number of high-profile journalists. Sports of the Times column started by Written by John Kieran in 1927, it was later joined by a group of notable writers such as Robert Lipsite, William Rhoden, Harvey Allaton, George Vexy and Ira Bercow.

Sports of the Times columnists Arthur Daly, Red Smith and Dave Anderson have won Pulitzer Prizes for writing about sports. Mr. Daly wrote his more than 10,000 columns for The Times over a period of 32 years. (Another sports reporter, John Branch, won Winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for his feature on a deadly avalanche in Washington State. )

In recent years, with the rise of digital media, The Times’ sports division, like many other national and local newspapers, has begun to shrink. The section has lost its independent daily newspaper section. Not all local teams have assigned beat reporters. Box scores are gone.

On Sunday, a group of about 30 members of The Times Sports Desk sent a letter to Mr Khan and Times publisher AG Salzberger, blaming the sports staff for being “blown by the wind” since the Times’ takeover. accused the company of athletic.

Sulzberger and the company’s CEO, Meredith Kopit Levien, said in an email to employees Monday that the company’s goal since acquiring The Athletic is to become “a world leader in sports journalism.” I wrote that.

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