The NY Times will now source its sports coverage from SF’s The Athletic, which has poached a ton of prestigious sportswriters, pulled $140 million in VC money, was bought up by the NYT, though has never shown a profit.
The Washington Post had a pretty good Sunday night scoop that the New York Times’ sportswriters were demanding answers to the threat that they could be laid off, and replaced by writers from San Francisco-based website The Athletic, which the Times bought last year for $550 million.
Breaking News: The New York Times will disband its sports department and rely on its website The Athletic for coverage of teams and games, both online and in print. Newsroom leaders said there were no planned layoffs. https://t.co/tMXXmwXa92— The New York Times (@nytimes) July 10, 2023
That scoop turned out to be prescient, because on Monday morning, the Associated Press reported the Times dissolved its sports section, and will instead just source material from The Athletic. More than 35 New York Times sportswriters will be transferred to other positions, and no one will actually be laid off. But if you're a Times subscriber, you’ll likely only see coverage from The Athletic in your sports section.
"Though we know this decision will be disappointing to some, we believe it is the right one for readers and will allow us to maximize the respective strengths of The Times's and The Athletic's newsrooms," New York Times Company chairman A.G. Sulzberger and CEO Meredith Kopit Levien said in a Monday letter to staff, according to the AP.
In October of 2017, @nytimes sports section published this article about how @TheAthletic wanted to end sports sections in newspapers. Now The Athletic has ended the New York Times sports section. All because NYT is losing tens of millions on company. Amazing. pic.twitter.com/mTy3ek2PWn— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) July 10, 2023
And many have noted the irony that the Times published a 2017 profile of The Athletic where The Athletic co-founder Alex Mather said of newspaper sports sections, “We will wait every local paper out and let them continuously bleed until we are the last ones standing,” and “We will suck them dry of their best talent at every moment. We will make business extremely difficult for them.”
Now it is the Times’ own sports section The Athletic has bled dry.
Locally, The Athletic had already poached premier Bay Area sports writers like Tim Kawakami, Andrew Baggarly, and Marcus Thompson II. Nationally, they’ve pulled in big names like Richard Deitsch, David Aldridge, and Ken Rosenthal. The publication was showered with nearly $140 million in venture capital, yet never achieved profitability, and sold itself to the Times in January 2022 for a far lower price than they were seeking.
Worth noting that the New York Times sports desk was unionized and The Athletic is not. https://t.co/V99DM3s1O2— Mike Beauvais (@MikeBeauvais) July 10, 2023
And as a few have pointed out on Twitter, the New York Times is a unionized workplace, The Athletic is not.
Image: NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 29: The New York Times logo hangs above a doorway of their corporate headquarters on April 29, 2023, in New York City. (Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)