The New York Times will shut down its sports desk and shift its daily coverage of athletes and teams to The Athletic, the newspaper announced Monday.
The decision to dismantle The Times’ long-standing Sports desk comes as the paper aims to provide a “greater abundance of sports coverage than ever before,” New York Times Chairman A.G. Sulzberger and CEO Meredith Kopit Levien announced in a memo Monday. The closure will allow the paper to maximize both The Times’ and The Athletic’s respective newsrooms, they said.
Sports stories across The Times’ website will be sourced from the nearly 150 daily stories published by The Athletic, which includes coverage of leagues, teams, and players, both domestic and international, Sulzberger and Levien said.
The New York Times acquired The Athletic last year in a bid to expand its sporting coverage.
“Since the acquisition of The Athletic 18 months ago, our goal has been to become a global leader in sports journalism, which represents a major pillar of our company strategy to be the essential subscription for curious people around the world,” they said.
Sulzberger and Levien said there were “no plans for layoffs” due to the changes, “and newsroom leadership will actively work with all our Sports colleagues to ensure they land in the right roles.”
Sports reporters and editors will instead shift from the previous freestanding Sports desk to other desks around the newsroom where some will continue to produce stories about sports, they said.
The New York Times Guild, the newspaper’s union, blasted the move, saying sports staffers were given “virtually no notice of this change,” with several members learning of the decision in a Times news alert on their phones just prior to being called into a meeting regarding the matter.
“This announcement is a profound betrayal of our colleagues and of Times values,” the Guild said in a statement. “Times leadership is attempting to outsource union jobs on our sports desk to a non-union Times subsidiary under the preposterous argument that The Times can ‘subcontract’ its sports coverage to itself.”
The Guild said it intends to fight what it called a “flagrant attempt at union-busting” and will work with sports reporters to uphold their rights as outlined by their union contracts.