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Leaked memo: The New York Times has made two big hires for its secret Substack competitor

  • The Times has hired Jay Caspian Kang and Peter Coy for its newsletter project, according to a leaked memo.
  • The paper has been working on the effort amid an industry newsletter boom.
  • More announcements are on the way soon, one Times source said. 

The New York Times has hired two journalists for its secret newsletter project as the paper readies its answer to the Substack boom.  

Jay Caspian Kang and Peter Coy have joined the paper’s Opinion section, according to the memo, which was sent to staffers in the department and obtained by Insider. 

Coy, a longtime Bloomberg Businessweek writer and editor, announced on Twitter that he joined the paper as an economics writer — but did not mention the newsletter project. Kang has been a writer at large for The New York Times Magazine and was a founding editor for the now-defunct sports and culture site Grantland.

“We will not be formally announcing Jay and Peter’s involvement nor sharing any other information on the newsletter project, for a few weeks, so we ask that you please keep this news within the department,” said the memo, which was signed by Opinion editor Katie Kingsbury, Brian Zittel, who oversees newsletters for Opinion, and Paula Szuchman, who runs Opinion audio.

Coy, Kang, and a Times spokesperson did not immediately return requests for comment. 

Times editors in both the newsroom and in Opinion have been working on the newsletter project for months as the format booms in popularity across the industry. As Insider reported, Substack has made overtures to Times writers with large advantages to lure them to their platform.

Meanwhile, the paper has been recruiting writers inside and outside the organization. Former Styles editor Choire Sicha was set to work on the effort at least temporarily before he decamped for New York Magazine. More newsletter announcements are on the way, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

The paper has at the same time rearticulated its rules for reporters’ outside work, including paid and unpaid newsletters, books, and podcast deals.

Here’s the full memo:

Hi, All.

We’re delighted to announce three new colleagues in Opinion. The writers Jay Caspian Kang and Peter Coy are joining the newsletter project, and Sonia Herrero is starting in Audio as a sound engineer.

We will not be formally announcing Jay and Peter’s involvement nor sharing any other information on the newsletter project, for a few weeks, so we ask that you please keep this news within the department.

Jay has been a writer at large for The New York Times Magazine and the author of the forthcoming book, “The Loneliest Americans.” He was a founding editor of Grantland, an Emmy-nominated correspondent for Vice on HBO, and a contributor to our Opinion section. His work has also appeared in the New York Review of Books, This American Life and Harper’s. In his new role, Jay will write for Opinion and continue to contribute to the magazine. He lives in Berkeley, California.

Peter joins Opinion after a long run as an editor and writer at Bloomberg Businessweek. He was hired by Businessweek in 1989 as telecommunications editor, and then worked as technology editor before joining the economics staff in 1997. He has covered economics ever since, writing cover stories and commentaries on such topics as Bidenomics, racial injustice, and the Federal Reserve.

Sonia is joining Opinion as an audio engineer and musician. Starting as a sound engineer for her college radio at University of Maryland, she refined her skills into an art of recording and engineering for podcasts and film. After several years in the industry, she wanted to give back and started teaching audio engineering in her community. As a violinist and musician, Sonia loves to go down cultural rabbit holes and study and collaborate with musicians of different cultural backgrounds, this resulted in works inspired by Middle Eastern musicians and dancers and meditation music. During the pandemic, Sonia started to practice walking meditations, attempt vegan cooking, and has taken on Alvin Ailey virtual dance classes. Please join us in welcoming Jay, Peter and Sonia.

– Katie, Brian, Paula


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