The top trio of editors at the New York Times, including Executive Editor Jill Abramson, released a very sympathetic letter to rank-and-file newsroom employees yesterday following a silent protest inside the paper’s offices by union members on Wednesday.
Members of the Newspaper Guild, the largest union at the Times, representing reporters and photographers and some business-side people, had staged a silent protest by lining the hallway outside the page one meeting on Tuesday afternoon.
A photo of the silent protest (above) was tweeted yesterday.
The protest was not directed at Abramson or Managing Editors Dean Baquet or John Geddes. The aim was for the editors to relay to Chairman Arthur “Pinch” Sulzberger, Jr. the newsroom anger at the stalled contract talks.
The Newspaper Guild has been without a contract since March 31, 2011. The Guild said that in talks the company has been pushing to freeze pension benefits.
Apparently, what stoked the newsroom anger was a report on Footnoted.org that crunched the numbers in the Times’ recently-filed 10-K revealing that ousted former President and CEO Janet Robinson will get, in addition to her severance and pension, an added $4.5 million for a gig that requires her to do no more than 15 hours of consulting per month. If she puts in all 15 hours, it works out to $375,000 a month or $25,000 per hour.
But the consulting gig is only part of her farewell package, estimated to be more than $21 million.
Bill O’Meara, president of the Newspaper Guild, said the protest was organized by the newsroom, not the Guild.
The editors appear sympathetic.
“Yesterday’s gathering by the page one room shortly before the 4 p.m. meeting was another reminder of how deeply unsettling this time has been,” said a memo released by Abramson, Baquet and Geddes to staffers yesterday. “We understand those concerns.”