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New York Times to dismantle sports desk, rely on The Athletic for coverage

The New York Times said on Monday it is disbanding its sports desk and will rely on The Athletic for daily coverage of the beat, a move the newspaper said would not result in any layoffs.

The Gray Lady has been looking to trim costs as advertisers dial back spending and consumers rethink subscriptions in the face of high inflation and rising interest rates. The ad revenue slowdown has forced several media companies including BuzzFeed, ABC News and Canada’s Bell to lay off staff.

The sports desk has more than 35 journalists and editors, according to a report in the Times. Its breakup is a big move for the newspaper, where sports coverage once played a major role with notable stories on Muhammad Ali, the Williams sisters and Tiger Woods.

It, however, further integrates The Athletic, the sports-news website the newspaper bought for $550 million in January last year to push its strategy of bundling core news offerings with digital content such as cooking recipes and games.

The Athletic has some 400 journalists covering more than 200 professional sports teams. It helped The Times in meeting its target of 10 million subscriptions three years ahead of schedule but has yet to turn a profit, with operating losses increasing to $7.8 million in the last reported quarter.

A statement from Chairman A.G. Sulzberger and CEO Meredith Kopit Levien said that journalists on the sports desk will move to other roles in the newsroom.

A group on the business desk will cover money and power in sports, while new beats covering sports will be added to other sections. The moves are expected to be completed by the fall. US News

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