CONFLICTING MOMENTS: The New York Times had a treat for employees Monday morning — a Q&A with Arianna Huffington. Asking the questions? No less than executive editor Jill Abramson herself. The Q&A was scheduled at the TimesCenter around 1 p.m. and was open only to Times employees. Throughout the afternoon, Times reporters tweeted and Instagrammed from the talk. But as quippy as Huffington might have been, she did not stop a planned afternoon walkout in protest of ongoing contract negotiations between Times management and the Newspaper Guild. About 375 staffers participated, according to the guild.
The union contract, which expired in March 2011, has not been renewed because of disagreements over wages, pension benefits and other demands. In a memo, the Newspaper Guild said management also sought to separate contracts between digital and print reporters. Arts reporter Robin Pogrebin tweeted a quote from staff photographer Sara Krulwich: “I came into work today just to walk out.” Other staffers, like social media producer Daniel Victor, attended both events.
The timing of the protest and the Huffington Q&A seemed to be a coincidence. Negotiations resume Tuesday at the offices of the Times’ lawyers, near Times Square; the talk was scheduled “a long time ago,” said a Times spokeswoman. Asked how many people attended the Huffington talk, the spokeswoman said, “Several hundred. It needed to be moved from our 15th floor conference center to the TimesCenter because of the response.”