Jul 10, 2023 - Economy

NYT cuts sports desk to focus on The Athletic

Photo: Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

The New York Times plans to cut its stand-alone sports desk to focus more on its subscription sports site The Athletic, the Times said in a memo Monday.

Why it matters: The change is part of a broader effort to shift the company's sports coverage to focus "more directly on distinctive, high-impact news and enterprise journalism," the memo from publisher A.G. Sulzberger and president and CEO Meredith Kopit Levien read.

  • Last month, The Athletic cut nearly 4% of its staff — nearly 20 roles — and moved more than 20 others to new positions.
  • Kopit Levien told Axios that doing so was part of an effort to shift its coverage toward stories of greater national interest.

Details: The changes will not yield any layoffs, and "current Sports staff will transition to other desks around the newsroom," the memo read.

  • Sulzberger and Kopit Levien stressed that the changes will ultimately "provide Times readers with a greater abundance of sports coverage than ever before."
  • "Under our plan, the digital homepage, newsletters, social feeds, the sports landing page and the print section will draw from even more of the approximately 150 stories The Athletic produces each day chronicling leagues, teams and players across the United States and around the globe."

Catch up quick: The Times acquired The Athletic for $550 million in cash in early 2022. The deal was meant to help bolster the Times' subscriber base while also helping more readers create a daily habit with its journalism.

  • In the time since, it's been unclear how The Athletic and the Times' sports desk would co-exist. Sports staff voiced concern about the future of their section leading up to Monday's memo.
  • Twenty-eight writers and editors from The Times' sports department wrote a letter to management voicing concern about the paper's plans to integrate the sports section with The Athletic, the Washington Post reported.

What to watch: The Athletic is still not profitable, but its losses continue to shrink under the Times' ownership.

  • Kopit Levien said that in owning The Athletic, the Times is "making a 10-year bet to build the leading brand and global end destination and global sports journalism."

Editor's note: This article has been corrected to reflect that the NYT bought The Athletic in 2022 (not in 2021). It has also been corrected to note that nearly 20 roles were cut, not over 20.

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