Tour of New York Times Building

4 Jan

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by Rhea H. Boyden

Last Monday morning I met my New York cousins Hilary and Kiera at the iconic New York gourmet bakery Dean and Deluca at 42nd street. ‘You have to try their delicious blackout chocolate donut’ my cousin Hilary said, ordering me one before I could refuse. We enjoyed our coffee and donuts and then came the highlight: right next door to this branch of Dean and Deluca is the New York Times building. Their cousin on the other side of the family, Lawrence Downes, is a New York Times journalist and a member of the editorial board. He had agreed to take time out of his busy workday and meet us to give a tour of the newsroom. As a budding writer and journalist myself, this was naturally a huge treat for me.

We met Lawrence in the lobby of the building next to the atrium in the middle which is open to the skies. Within this atrium grows shiny birch trees and lush green grasses. I remarked on how nice it looked and Lawrence told me that the grass that now grows there replaces the moss that had been originally planted. ‘It had turned really brown and died and was starting to look really bad’, he informed us. ‘The large glass-paneled windows are a symbol of media transparency’ he said with a smile, ‘and a view of browning and dead moss would be the wrong message to send regarding media transparency, wouldn’t it?’ he joked. ‘Let’s head to the cafeteria first, I want to invite you guys to lunch.’ He led us into the wonderful lunchroom and I decided that I would hit the salad bar to counteract my decadent breakfast of a gourmet chocolate donut eaten only twenty minutes earlier.

After lunch Lawrence took us into the newsroom. As we rounded the corner, a woman walked passed us and told Lawrence that his current article was now on the most read list and how great it was. He had just returned from taking a road trip with award- winning singer Linda Ronstadt and had  written a moving account of his time with her. The woman was his photo editor, he told us, and really great to work with. We peered down onto the main newsroom and Lawrence explained who the people were; the top editors who are in charge of what goes on the front page. They are in a fancy open-plan office and not in single room offices. The need to communicate fast with your colleagues is important here, obviously. ‘It’s pretty quiet right now’, he said ‘A lot of people are out to lunch or in meetings, but you should see it in here when a big news story breaks or when there is a disaster.’

We walked on through the open-plan offices of the arts and culture section and I smiled as I saw the piles of books these journalists had practically falling off the edges of their desks. We eventually reached the editorial boardroom where Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton, John Kerry and other top politicians come in for their briefings. Right next to the boardroom is the office of Andrew Rosenthal, who is in charge of the opinion pages both in the newsroom and online. He came out and shook our hands and told us a few more anecdotes and some of the history of the New York Times.

We then looped around the rest of the op ed section and Lawrence showed us where the elevator was and informed us that he wished he had more time for us but he had a deadline to write an article and had to get back to work. I shook his hand and thanked him for lunch and for taking the time to give us a tour and how inspiring it had been for me. We then took the elevator down and went back out onto noisy and bustling 42nd street to continue our Manhattan wanderings.

2 Responses to “Tour of New York Times Building”

  1. Liz Riorden January 6, 2014 at 5:24 pm #

    The building’s architect was a teacher and friend of mine back in my grad school days…I did not have a chance to mention that last week!

    • rheahboyden January 7, 2014 at 5:49 pm #

      Oh Wow! Really, And Shane worked in the mail room too, he said. I should have added that in the post! 🙂

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