In another sign of a troubled media landscape, the New York Times announced on Monday that it was dissolving the newspaper’s sports department and handing over most of its reporting to its digital website, The Athletic.
As part of the change, articles from The Athletic, which The New York Times purchased for $550 million in January 2022, will be fully integrated into the newspaper’s operations and provide content to the print newspaper. Online access to The Athletic is already available to New York Times digital subscribers.
According to The Times, The Athletic employs 400 journalists covering over 200 professional teams around the world.
The 35 editors and reporters currently working for the Times sports department will remain. Some will be reassigned to new sports-related topics elsewhere in the newspaper by the fall. The company said no layoffs were planned.
The sports section of The New York Times has been a source of company pride for decades, having awarded the company multiple Pulitzer Prizes and producing famous columnists such as Red Smith, Dave Anderson and Arthur Daley.
But the proliferation of online sites and apps that provide sports fans with instant information has forced wide-publishing media outlets to reassess the amount of resources devoted to the collection of sports information that is available elsewhere for free.
The Los Angeles Times announced Sunday that it will no longer provide game, score or listing coverage in its print newspaper. The newspaper’s new sports section will be in a magazine-like format with in-depth profiles, research, analysis and opinion columns. Dates and listings will be available on the newspaper’s app and website.
The New York Times had similarly scaled back its print sports coverage in recent years. There is no longer a separate section.
Joe Kahn, editor-in-chief of The New York Times, and Monica Drake, assistant editor-in-chief, told staff the integration of The Athletic is “an evolution in the way we cover sports.”
“We plan to focus even more directly on distinctive, impactful news and corporate journalism that explores how sport intersects with money, power, culture, politics and society at large,” the editors told employees in an E -Mail on Monday morning with. “At the same time, we will be reducing the newsroom’s coverage of games, players, teams and leagues.”
The New York Times bought The Athletic, a startup founded in 2016, as part of its strategy to reach a wider audience with digital products alongside its main news site. The site is part of a subscription package that offers recipes, consumer advice about Wirecutter and games, including the hugely popular Wordle.
As a company, The Athletic has not yet turned a profit. In the first quarter of this year, the company reported a loss of $7.8 million. But the number of paying subscribers grew from just over one million at the time of the acquisition to over three million in March 2023.