NY Times Classical Music Critic James Oestreich Decides to Leave (Updated)

James Oestreich has reportedly accepted a buyout a day before the Thursday deadline

James Oestreich, a classical music critic at the New York Times, has accepted a buyout and will  leave the paper.

TwitterThe 24-year Times veteran will leave at the end of the month, but contribute freelance stories throughout the spring and offer advice on the paper's classical music coverage, the music blog Slipped Disc reported.

"As many of you have heard me say (perhaps ad nauseam), this has been a dream job," Oestreich wrote to his colleagues in a farewell memo, obatined by Slipped Disc. "If I had drawn up an ideal job description for myself beforehand, I could hardly have done better."

Neither spokespeople for the Times nor Oestreich responded to requests from TheWrap for comment.

Also read: NY Times Culture Editor Jonathan Landman to Leave Paper

Oestreich's exit comes about three weeks after culture editor Jon Landman accepted a buyout, one of the first in the newsroom to accept executive editor Jill Abramson's effort to entice 30 voluntary departures.

The buyout offer expires on Thursday, and the number of acceptances has been reported to be in the single digits. The Times is expected to lay off employees if the buyout quota is not met.

“I hope the needed savings can be achieved through voluntary buyouts but if not," Abramson said in her original memo requesting volunteers, "I will be forced to go to layoffs among the excluded staff.”

In a memo sent out Wednesday night, Abramson again pleaded with staffers to consider the buyouts if they hadn't already.

"We will know a day or two after that whether or not we will have to go to layoffs in order to reach the savings we need," she wrote in the memo, obtained by Romenesko. "We’ll need some time to figure out which buyout requests we can accept."

Here's the full text of Oestreich's memo obtained by Slipped Disc:

After 24 years on staff at The New York Times, I have decided to make a major change and take advantage of The Times’s current buyout offer. I will complete my tenure as classical music editor on Jan. 31, but I am delighted to report that I will be advising the department on our coverage through the spring, as well as continuing to write for The Times on a freelance basis.

As many of you have heard me say (perhaps ad nauseam), this has been a dream job. If I had drawn up an ideal job description for myself beforehand, I could hardly have done better. The opportunity to do this work, in a field and on behalf of an art form that I truly love, at The Times – an institution for which my respect, impossibly high to begin with, has nevertheless grown through years of seeing it in action – was a privilege beyond measure.

That this privilege has also been all-consuming will come as no surprise to colleagues in the newsroom, and I am excited about the prospect (finally) of balancing my life with a bit of teaching, other writing and maybe even a book project.

I could not be more grateful to those many treasured colleagues in the newsroom and to all my friends within and without the paper. I hope that our paths will continue to cross in projects for The Times and in other ventures. You can reach me at this e-mail address during the interim. Otherwise you will find me at jimo12c@gmail.com.

All best wishes,


Updated at 5:57 p.m. PT with Wednesday's memo from Jill Abramson.