Although the New York Times buyout deadline of 5 p.m. Thursday has come and gone, the situation remains fluid.
Winnie O'Kelley, deputy editor for Business Day, confirmed to The Huffington Post on Friday afternoon that she is still considering whether or not to take the buyout, but declined to comment further.
Deputy editor Bill Schmidt has been expected to take a buyout, according to staffers, but wouldn't comment either way when also reached by The Huffington Post on Friday afternoon.
The Times, at this point, isn't commenting as to whether management was able to eliminate 30 positions in the newsroom, thus preventing layoffs. The current buyouts are geared toward higher-level, and presumably higher-salaried, staffers. The Times management ranks have swelled in recent years, with some managers no longer having sizable newsroom portfolios and less opportunities to move upward.
There probably won't be final tally for another week or so, considering that staffers submitting applications by Thursday 5 p.m. have a small window to take them back and because management still has to approve each buyout. However, given that the numbers leaked so far fall below the target, it's unlikely management will deny buyout requests and may have to tap a few people on the shoulder to convince them to opt for the buyout.
The New York Post reported Friday morning that "as a few as a dozen" Times staffers volunteered by deadline, while Politico reported in the afternoon "that more than 20 staffers have taken a buyout, though only a dozen of those departures have been reported."
A few more names were revealed Friday. Capital New York reported that Chris Carroll, a 17-year veteran on the news design staff, and Alix Pelletier Paul, a 31-year veteran, each took buyouts. Politico also reported that Tom Torok, head of the computer-assisted reporting team, is taking a buyout.
Within the the newsroom, the rank-and-file have been riveted by all the palace intrigue, with high-level editors either moving from soon-to-be-eliminated positions to open ones -- or leaving the paper altogether. On Thursday came a couple major departures, with sports editor Joe Sexton being the biggest shock to the newsroom and assistant managing editor Jim Roberts the biggest shock on Twitter, where he's built up a large following.
But along with the ongoing newsroom guessing game -- and concerns about further staff reduction down the line -- there's also been some grumbling among staffers over executive editor Jill Abramson traveling to the Sundance Film Festival last week. The decision, to some, appeared tone deaf as dozens of Times veterans are either voluntarily heading for the exits (or will be told to do so if the target isn't met).
"Jill went to Sundance last weekend for the premiere of a film about Anita Hill that she was featured in," a Times spokeswoman told The Huffington Post in an email. (Abramson co-wrote a book on Hill in 1994, with The New Yorker's Jane Mayer).
"I'm not sure what a weekend trip no matter where she was going has to do with buyouts and/or layoffs," the spokeswoman continued. "Small groups of people can always be counted on to grumble and it doesn't seem to serve anyone to comment further about this."
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