This blows. George Freeman, who has served as assistant general counsel at the New York Times for two decades, has been laid off, along with 50 other employees from the human resources, finance and legal departments, reports Capital New York.
Freeman, an expert on First Amendment law, is something of a legal rockstar. Most recently at the Times, he organized media publications in criticizing the NYPD’s mistreatment of the press at Occupy Wall Street. Am I biased? Totally. I had Freeman as a professor of First Amendment ethics at New York University, where he brought in Bill Keller, former executive editor of the New York Times, to lecture in class. As a professor, Freeman was invaluable, giving his students access to speakers and resources we never would have encountered otherwise. I remember him as uniquely easy-going, as well as oddly tan in the midst of the winter months—probably from all the tennis playing he did. At any rate, that’s off topic. This is surely the Times‘ loss.
“After 31 wonderful years at The Times, and working with 6 fabulous executive editors from Abe Rosenthal forward, I am both saddened and shocked,” Freeman told the blog of Jim Romenesko. “It has been a great run, in as interesting, challenging and worthwhile a job as a lawyer can have, but now I look forward to the chance of a new opportunity in the First Amendment world,” he said.