The New York Times said Monday that it would disband its sports department and rely on its website, The Athletic, for coverage of teams and sports both online and in print.
The Times executive editor Joe Kahn and deputy managing editor Monica Drake announced the change to the newsroom, describing it as “an evolution in how we cover sports.”
The editors wrote in an email to The Times newsroom on Monday morning, “We plan to focus even more directly on distinctive, high-impact news and enterprise journalism on how sport is intertwined with money, power, culture, politics and connect with society at large.” “At the same time, we will reduce the newsroom’s coverage of sports, players, teams and leagues.”
The shuttering of the sports desk, which houses more than 35 reporters and editors, marks a major change for The Times. The department’s coverage of sports, athletes and team owners, and especially its Sports of the Times column, was once a pillar of American sports journalism. This section covers major moments and personalities of the past century in American sports, including Muhammad Ali, the birth of free agency, George Steinbrenner, the Williams sisters, Tiger Woods, steroids in baseball, and the lethal effects of injury in the National Football League. Are. ,
The move represents further integration into The Athletic’s newsroom, which was purchased by The Times in January 2022 for $550 million, including a publication that has nearly 400 reporters covering more than 200 professional sports teams. Were.
The staff of The Athletic will now provide most coverage of sporting events, athletes and leagues for Times readers and, for the first time, articles from The Athletic will appear in The Times’ print newspaper. Online access to The Athletic, which operates separately from The Times newsroom, is included for those who subscribe to NYTimes.com.
Mr. Kahn and Ms. Drake said reporters on the sports desk would move to other roles in the newsroom and there would be no planned layoffs. A group on the business desk will cover money and power in sports, while new beats covering sports will be added to other sections. The moves are expected to be completed by the fall.
When The Times bought The Athletic, executives said the deal would help the company appeal to a wider audience. They added this to a subscription bundle that included access to the main Times news site as well as cooking, the Wirecutter product review service, and games.
As a business, The Athletic has yet to turn a profit. It had a loss of $7.8 million in the first quarter of this year. But the number of paying customers is set to exceed three million by March 2023, up from just over one million at the time of its acquisition.
Last November, The Times named Steven Ginsburg, a top editor at The Washington Post, as executive editor of The Athletic. In June, The Athletic laid off about 20 reporters and transferred more than 20 others to new jobs. Its leaders said the outlet would no longer assign at least one beat reporter for each sports team.
The takeover of The Athletic raised questions about the future of The Times’ sports department, which included a number of distinguished journalists. Times sports column started by John Kieran in 1927, and would later include a distinguished group of writers that included Robert Lipsite, William Roden, Harvey Eraton, George Vesey, and Ira Berko.
Three Times sports columnists, Arthur Daly, Red Smith and Dave Anderson, have won Pulitzer Prizes for their sports writing. Mr. Daly wrote more than 10,000 columns for the Times over 32 years. (Another sports reporter, John Branch, won Pulitzer Prize in 2013 for his feature on a deadly avalanche in Washington state.)
In recent years, with the rise of digital media, The Times’ sports department began to downsize, as did many other national and local newspapers. The section lost its stand-alone daily print section. Not every local team was assigned a beat reporter. Box scores have disappeared.
On Sunday, a group of about 30 members of The Times’ sports desk sent a letter to Mr. Kahn and The Times publisher AG Sulzberger, calling out for leaving its sports staff “twisting in the air” since its purchase of The Times. The company was reprimanded. Strong
Mr. Sulzberger and the company’s chief executive, Meredith Kopit Levine, wrote in an email to employees on Monday that the company’s goal since acquiring The Athletic was to become “a global leader in sports journalism.”