NEW YORK -- The New York Times abruptly fired two veteran editors on Thursday, a move that’s shocked the newsroom given the journalists’ years of dedication and because layoffs aren’t currently taking place.
Kyle Massey and Vanessa Gordon, who were both assistant news editors, worked at The Times for 16 and 20 years, respectively. They were each notified on Thursday and had to leave the newsroom that day.
Massey and Gordon both separately confirmed to The Huffington Post that they no longer work at The Times. They each declined to comment further.
A Times spokeswoman said the paper does not comment on personnel issues.
The two longtime editors played key roles in the print operation, which is currently being reorganized. Though the re-tooling of the print side may account for their positions being cut, management did not explain the decision to staffers Thursday, according to newsroom sources. Management's handling of the situation was out of character for The Times, sources said.
The Times has gone through a series of layoffs and buyouts in recent years, including 2014, yet has maintained a robust newsroom by redeploying resources to growth areas such as digital, video and audience engagement.
The two dismissals come on the heels of executive editor Dean Baquet informing staff earlier this month that The Times would offer buyouts in the video department as part of a reorganization and that layoffs were possible. Baquet's memo surprised staffers given that video is an area that's been expanding.
Baquet has not informed staff of any potential layoffs in other parts of the organization, leaving colleagues puzzled by the dismissal of the two veteran editors.
Gordon joined The Times in 1995 from the Philadelphia Inquirer and has worked in layout as a copy editor, and for the past decade as an assistant news editor.
Massey began his career as a sportswriter for the Log Cabin Democrat in Conway, Arkansas. He next spent a decade at the Little Rock-based Arkansas Democrat-Gazette before heading to the Charlotte Observer as a copy editor. He joined The Times in 1999 as copy chief for the Metro desk.
Massey, who has been described as The Times "headline guru," oversaw many of the paper's top headlines each day and filed and in-house critique each week for the standards editor. He's also written several pieces for Times Insider on newsroom processes, including changes to the legendary Page One meeting, and the art of headline writing at The Times.
“The best heads are skillful, informative and terse,” Massey wrote last year. “Times headlines also have a definite tone that readers have come to expect: knowing and sophisticated but often wry, funny or poignant. The kinds of puns readers expect from other publications — tabloids in particular — are rare in our report, or should be. We wouldn’t put ‘Headless Body in Topless Bar’ on the front page, even though most of us would admit that it’s genius. It just isn’t our tone.”