A $550 million burden that has never turned a profit has managed to trigger massive changes at one of the leading U.S. media outlets.
The New York Times disbanded its sports department on Monday, resulting in the reassignment of more than 35 journalists and editors — including some to a planned unit within the business section focusing on money and power in sports. The paper will rely on sports coverage from The Athletic, which the Times acquired early last year.
Since that deal, internal dissension has grown within the Times, peaking with a formal letter sent Sunday by the Times’ sports department staffers to newspaper leadership, complaining of being left “twisting in the wind.”
Pressure has been high on the Times to make something of its purchase of The Athletic, which despite more than doubling subscribers to 3.27 million has posted more than $43 million in total operating losses since the beginning of 2022 — including $7.8 million in 2023’s first quarter.
Just weeks after The Athletic laid off about 20 staffers, those pressures have now spread to the Times, a deeply influential voice in sports coverage on and off the field for decades.
The Athletic isn’t unionized, while the NewsGuild of New York represents Times writers.
The shifts arrive as another major daily newspaper of record is also doing away with traditional sports coverage. The Los Angeles Times is eliminating core content elements such as game stories, box scores, and standings.
The changes follow a sale of their printing press and new, early-afternoon print deadlines.