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Thursday, January 8, 2015

“A less friendly, less comforting place”: Steve Greenhouse on the end of an era in labor reporting

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Flush as it is with talent and experience, it’s inevitable that a round of buyouts at the New York Times will feature at least a few (and often more than a few) beloved journalists either retiring altogether or moving on to new pastures.

Even still, when the Times’ longtime labor and work reporter Steven Greenhouse announced on Twitter near the end of last year that he was accepting a “generous buyout offer” from the Grey Lady and bringing an end to a whopping 31 years at the Times, the news was greeted with dismay not only by people in the media, but by readers who’ve long enjoyed his clear-eyed and celebrated work. For his part, Greenhouse said in a memo sent around to Times staff that accepting the buyout was “one of the toughest decisions of my life” but that he couldn’t refuse both the Times’ offer as well as the chance to slow down after spending more than three decades writing at a crisp, tireless pace.

Because Greenhouse was one of the most influential and respected labor reporters left in traditional media, and because his buyout came during an era when organized labor is in worse shape than it’s been in perhaps as much as a century, Salon decided recently to speak with him over the phone about his decision to step down, his plans for the future, the ways the American workplace has changed in the past generation, and what he expects from the media on workplace and labor issues in the future. Our...

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