The giant sucking sound you might be hearing from Manhattan this week is probably the vacuum of media and marketing insight being created by New York Times buyouts.
Stuart Elliott, the newspaper's longest-serving advertising columnist, has announced he will be "taking part in the (generous) buyout offer the Times has made to longtime employees." After more than 23 years in the role, his last day will be Dec. 19.
"For many, many years covering advertising, marketing and media, I've written about people [who] are 'leaving to pursue other interests' or leaving 'to explore career opportunities' or even to 'spend more time with (his/her) family,'" Elliott said in a Facebook announcement about his retirement. "Now I am going to be one of those people. … It is scary, and exciting, and I want to thank everyone who has helped me all these years in tackling this demanding job."
"After eight years with @nytimes including nearly three years writing about my colleagues in the troubled newspaper industry, I am taking a buyout!" Haughney wrote on Twitter. "Still deciding what I'm going to do after @nytimes. But I'm excited to figure it out!"
Facing a long-term budget crisis, Times executives are hoping to shed 100 newsroom positions through voluntary buyouts and, if needed, layoffs. It is only the most recent round of large-scale staff reductions for the newspaper, which also cut 100 newsroom jobs in 2008, another 100 in 2009 and about 30 in 2013. The newsroom staff now stands at about 1,330, according to its own reports.
"There is no getting around the hard fact that the newsroom will have to lose 100 jobs. We hope to meet this number through voluntary buyouts," executive editor Dean Baquet wrote in a recent memo to staffers. "But if we don’t get there we will be forced to do layoffs. The buyout packages are generous, especially for people with decades of service."
For those in the advertising world, Elliott's departure might be the most stunning. He is widely considered the most influential advertising journalist in the U.S. and has guided the newspaper's coverage of the ad industry for decades.
Here are just a few of the many responses and warm send-offs posted to Twitter since Elliott's announcement:
— David Joachim, NYT (@davidjoachim) Dec. 3, 2014
Wow. The ad business without @stuartenyt covering it will be a less elegant business indeed. Best wishes to you, Stuart.
— Goodby Silverstein (@GSP) Dec. 3, 2014
Everything I know about the advertising industry, I learned from @stuartenyt. We're all sad to see you go, Stuart! Best of luck.
— Maura McGreevy (@mmcgreevy) Dec. 3, 2014
Say it ain't so .@stuartenyt! So smart, so kind, one of the best in the business. Wishing you all the best for your next chapter!
— Don Halcombe (@dhalcombe) Dec. 3, 2014
The first thing I did in my advertising career was sign up for the @stuartenyt weekly newsletter. I've read it every week since. Good luck!
— Jon Hsia (@FeversFlavor) Dec. 3, 2014
The best part about @stuartenyt? He doesn’t pretend to be unreachable (even though he could). Younger media could learn a thing or two.
— Nick Dimichino (@ndimichino) Dec. 3, 2014