Scope and arrangement
This collection contains correspondence and memoranda among the staff of The New York Times National Desk, particularly between the national news editor, his editorial staff in New York, and the bureau editors, reporters, and stringers (freelance reporters) around the country. While the National Desk has been in existence for most of the history of The Times, this collection only documents the years 1950 to 1984. The contents of the early part of the collection focus on news coverage by the bureaus, background reports for ongoing news stories, the Times' editorial approach to certain stories, and the transmission of news from the bureaus to New York. The files from the 1970s and 1980s increasingly relate to only administrative matters, such as staffing and office space issues.
The collection is divided into two series: I: People and II: Subjects. The People files consist of records pertaining to individuals, while the Subjects files contain items on specific topics. Items germane to two or more people or subjects are often cross-referenced in the finding aid; documents related to specific issues are generally located in subject files rather than the people folders of those involved. The Times archivists imposed this arrangement and drastically weeded records of this collection.
The bulk of the letters and memoranda involve the following Times staff members: National News Editor Raymond B. O'Neill (1951-1968), Daily Assignments Editor Harold R. Faber (1951-1971), Assistant National News Editors Clifford J. Laube (1950s), Director of National Correspondent Harrison E. Salisbury (1962-1964), National News Director Claude Sitton (1964-1968), National News Editor David R. Jones (1972-1987), and Assistant Managing Editor James Greenfield (1977-1991). Eugene Roberts, Jr., who was national news editor from 1968 to 1972, is not represented in the collection. See the series scope notes in the container list for additional description of the collection's contents.
The New York Times Company records. National Desk records are arranged in two series:
- 1949-19841.5 boxes
This series is made up of files that contain items to, from, or concerning various individuals, primarily New York Times staff members and freelance reporters, with some files on politicians, and other newsmakers. Staff member files typically include letters and memoranda between the staff and National Desk editors. These items typically contain assignments and feedback on and assessments of their work. Many of these files also contain photographic portraits of the staff. Records regarding stringers are typically located in the Subject Series under the bureau or home geographic location. These contain correspondence regarding contracts, fee negotiations, and story assignments. While this series contains a small amount of external correspondence, most files on prominent figures are made up of items discussing The Times' reporting on these individuals. Files do not necessarily collect every letter, memorandum, or document related to the individual; subject files should also be consulted.
Files are arranged alphabetically by name. Entries without box and folder numbers cross-reference related material in other files.
- 1949-19845.5 boxes
This series is made up of alphabetical subject files that are organized (and titled) by topical keywords, city bureaus, geographical locations, or organizations. Internal correspondence and memoranda make up the bulk of these files; they consist of communications within the National Desk, between the National Desk and senior editors in other departments, and with the bureaus, reporters, and stringers around the country. Each city bureau has a file that contains memoranda on staff assignments, staff management, editorial feedback, and the system for transmitting news to New York. Stringers files include story assignments and contract negotiations. Records from 1949 to the mid-1970s primarily document news coverage (assignments and story content), editorial matters (fact checking, tone, and style), and managing and communicating with reporters. Items from the 1970s and 1980s relate to administrative issues, such as personnel and hiring, promotions, leasing office space, and the management of office finances. In this time period, exchanges about news coverage between editors and correspondents in the field are less frequent.
Files are arranged alphabetically by file title. Entries without box and folder numbers cross-reference related material in other files.