Michelle Chapman Associated Press
The New York Times will disband its sports division and rely on reporting from the website The Athletic, which it bought last year for $550 million.
The decision will affect more than 35 people in the sports department, according to The New York Times. The sports desk journalists will be reassigned to other roles within the newsroom, and there are no plans for layoffs.
“We know this decision will be disappointing for some, but it’s the right one for our readers, and we hope the Times and the magazine will continue to do so,” said AG Salzberger, chairman of The New York Times, and Meredith, chief executive officer. “We believe we can maximize the strengths of each of Athletic’s newsrooms.” In a letter to staff on Monday, Kopit Levian wrote:
They say sports coverage will be expanded under the transition.
“Our plan is to expand our digital homepage, newsletters, social feeds, sports landing pages, and print sections to include more from the nearly 150 stories produced daily by The Athletic documenting leagues, teams, and players across the U.S. and around the world. We will be citing many articles on the world globe,” they wrote.
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New York Times sportswriters have won several Pulitzer Prizes over the years, including Arthur Daley for his 1956 column, “Sports of the Times.” Walter Wellesley (Red) Smith provided commentary in 1976, and Dave Anderson provided commentary in 1981.
The New York Times announced early last year that it would acquire The Athletic as part of a strategy to grow its paying subscriber audience as its print advertising business continues to decline.
Unlike many local news outlets, The Times has amassed millions of subscribers during the presidency of Donald Trump and the COVID-19 pandemic. However, to combat the backlash from the politically-driven news boom in 2020, it is actively diversifying its coverage to include lifestyle advice, games, and recipes.
After more than two years of negotiations, including a 24-hour strike, the Times reached an agreement on a new contract with its editorial union in May. The agreement included agreements on salary increases, hybrid work and other benefits.