It should not be such a surprise that the New York Times is planning unprecedentedly brutal cuts to its editorial staff for 2009. After all, the newspaper has the most heavily-staffed newsroom in the country, with some 1,200 employees. Advertising revenues have declined at double-digit rates. And—after the recent economic swoon—the business won't be rebounding any time soon. But here's the funny thing about the rumor we're hearing:

The end-year cuts will fall most heavily on the newspaper's softer sections and the Times Magazine—in other words, those parts of the newspaper that are in most demand by advertisers. Publisher Arthur 'Pinch' Sulzberger apparently remains committed to saving the newspaper's pride, its costly and unprofitable hard news. In the words of Marshal Canrobert as he watched the British Light Brigade charge to destruction: "C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la guerre." A rough translation into demotic American: Pinch, you crazy guy.