The Times Issues Human Family Holiday Guidelines for the Newsroom


The Times has been a dominant force at family holidays for years. The new guidelines underscore our appreciation that journalists are humans and have families, but also call for our journalists to recognize that as their employer, we have a right to meddle in their private lives. We believe that to remain the world’s best news organization, we must allow journalists time with these human families. The guidelines were developed in a collaborative way with our legal and human resources department. Please read them closely, and take them to heart.

At family holidays, our reporters and editors can promote their work to our last loyal audience because your mother is still willing to pay for a subscription just to see your name in print each week.

We also need to make sure that we are engaging responsibly on holidays, especially with our in-laws who might have voted for Donald Trump, or even your father who you pretend you don’t want approval from but your therapist tricked you into admitting that you do.

That’s why we’re issuing updated and expanded family holiday guidelines.

  • At the dinner table, our journalists must not express opinions that would make them seem like intellectual coastal elites nor promote partisan political views that might upset latent racist family members like Uncle Walter. Especially do not argue with Uncle Walter when he makes a casually misogynistic joke that he justifies as the father of daughters.
  • Our journalists should be especially mindful of appearing to take sides on an issue that might devolve into baseless accusations of infidelity or parentage. Just because your father had carnal relations with your mother, it is not okay to call him a mother fucker, no matter how much he calls Colin Kaepernick a traitorous coward.
  • These guidelines apply to every department, but especially the Real Estate section who everyone knows is trying to gentrify East New York. Stop trying to convince your cousin Annie to buy that investment property on New Lots Avenue with you, it’ not going to happen and she doesn’t have the money anyway.
  • We consider all family holidays to come under this policy. While you might think Hanukkah is a holiday your parents embraced so you didn’t feel bad about all the Christmas trees and on your Birthright trip everyone in Israel laughed at you when you explained the Hanukkah bush, it still falls within this policy.
  • We strongly discourage our journalists from complaining about how your mother is preparing a roast. If you want to wake up at five a.m. to get the turkey in the oven, you’re welcome to cook it however well you damn please.
  • Always treat others with respect. If a relative questions or criticizes your dietary choices, career trajectory, or sexual partners, and you would like to respond, don’t. Have a drink instead. Do not imply that the person hasn’t been part of your life long enough to have an opinion.
  • If the criticism is especially aggressive or inconsiderate, have another drink.
  • We believe in the value of your human relationships, which is why we’re allowing you to work only half days on all major holidays, unless we’ve already asked you to work the full day. Unfortunately, due to the changing media landscape, we won’t be able to offer additional compensation for your time.
  • We want journalists to feel they can use their family holidays as a time to relax and not worry about the newsroom downsizing we’re planning in the first quarter of the new year.
  • Of course, it’s worth emphasizing again that just because our journalists are humans, that doesn’t mean our editors are. Actually, we’ve already replaced them with artificial intelligence systems that aren’t asking for the day after Thanksgiving off so they can go buy cheap electronics and more Old Navy fleeces.


And finally… as you can see, we have tried to strike a balance. We want our journalists to embrace their human side before we replace them all with algorithms that don’t need salaries, benefits, or holidays off, but also understand that by this time next year we hope to have automated the entire newsroom thereby negating the need for policies like these.


Featured image via Creative Commons.

Ian MacAllen is the author of Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American (Rowman & Littlefield, April 2022). His writing has appeared in Chicago Review of Books, Southern Review of Books, The Offing, 45th Parallel Magazine, Little Fiction, Vol 1. Brooklyn, and elsewhere. He tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at More from this author →