Clifford Levy, who
became editor of The New York Times’ Metro section two months ago, sent a memo to staff last week, outlining his intentions for the section.
He wrote: “…My overall judgment is that Metro has lost its footing and needs urgent, fundamental change. Our department remains grounded in a print approach and a print sensibility, often seemingly clinging to the idea that longstanding practices should be enough to get by in the digital era.”
He continued: “We must think much more intensely about how we are engaging readers (and listeners and viewers) on our digital platform. To that end, I’m closely examining what kind of talent, skills and experience Metro reporters and editors need for our department to have significantly more impact — and the extent to which Metro’s current staffing addresses those needs.”
After evaluating what he believes will make for a stronger and more successful Metro section, Levy plans to offer buyouts to those who do not fit in with the section’s future. His memo is clear: Metro is not shrinking. Rather, he hopes to grow it into a center for digital journalistic excellence.
Levy’s vision for the section includes coverage that transcends print's investigative deep dive. He wants to publish “a lyrical feature that goes viral on social platforms. A political scoop that has everyone talking. Spirited coverage of breaking news that brings in new readers through search.”
Those whose work and vision don’t align with the section’s new mission, Guild-represented reporters and editors who have worked at the section for a least a year, will be offered the buyouts.
Following the memo, Levy and other senior editors from the section made themselves available for individual meetings; a department-wide meeting was held to answer any additional questions.
Levy’s upcoming evaluation of his staff, in relation to the section’s new digital future, echoes ideas put forward by Troy Young, the new president of Hearst Magazines. Young is said to be scrutinizing the work of writers and editors at Esquire and Harper’s Bazaar, though his approach appears to be less empathetic than Levy’s.