"I thought we were better than this."


Amid its ongoing lawsuit against OpenAI, the New York Times' union is claiming that the paper is firing human artists to replace them with artificial intelligence.

In a memo obtained by The Wrap, the New York Times Guild said that firing nine out of the newspaper's 16 artists "reflect[s] a broader mindset that puts cost savings over people and the quality of our work."

As the union maintains, shrinking the NYT art department by more than half represents one of the paper's largest AI-driven staff reductions to date, during an industry-wide reckoning with the burgeoning technology.

As The Wrap points out, these job cuts come even as the newspaper sues OpenAI and Microsoft for using its copyrighted work without permission to train large language models (LLMs). These firings occurred, notably, after the paper spent $1 million on the lawsuit.

In a statement, a representative for the NYT claimed that art department staffers were offered voluntary buyouts and that the cuts were not driven by a desire to replace human workers with AI. Strangely, however, the paper also refused to deny that the reductions were related to Claro, the software the company uses that per its website contains "applied AI image intelligence."


Despite editorial insistence that Claro is "industry standard," the Guild argues that the work created by the NYT's artists cannot be replicated by AI tech as it stands today.

"They work on every editorial image that appears in the print newspaper, which earns more than 30 percent of this company’s revenue," the union emphasized in its memo. "Cutting nine human roles and expecting that work to be done by software is a troubling instance of our members being replaced by technology, at a moment when the company’s dabbling in AI threatens the security of other essential jobs."

In statements about the NYT's excellence in artistry, guild members pointed out that the newspaper recently won nine gold medals from the Society for News Design, suggesting that its industry standing hinges on its art.

"The Times has staked its reputation on being a standard bearer for honest visual and print journalism," art department editor Chris Kahley said in a statement to The Wrap. "The trained professionals in our department have played a vital role in these efforts, and Claro is not up to the task."

"Discarding dedicated staff who constantly help make the New York Times the visual showcase it is, is cruel," Audrey Razgaitis, the art director for the paper's Print Hub section, declared. "I thought we were better than this."

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