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Times vets CEOs
By Keith J. Kelly
The New York Times continues to press its search for a new CEO to replace the ousted Janet Robinson.
Most Times watchers think the company needs to name someone with deep digital experience to impress Wall Street. So far, the names that have surfaced as prospective candidates include more of the media old guard, including Wall Street Journal publisher Gordon Crovitz and former Newsweek president Alan Spoon.
Jim Citron, at head-hunting firm Spencer Stuart, is handling the search. A Spencer Stuart spokesman declined comment.
Meanwhile, contract talks between the Times and the Newspaper Guild of New York, which had stalled for nearly a year since the old contract expired on March 31, are still contentious but the two sides are talking.
One of the most volatile issues in the stalled talks was the insistence by Chairman Arthur “Pinch” Sulzberger and his negotiators that the defined benefit pension plan was getting too expensive and would have to be scrapped in favor of a 401(k) plan — paid for largely by employee contributions.
Last week, the Guild said for the first time that the Times had agreed to listen to proposals that could lead to some kind of hybrid plan.
Guild President Bill O’Meara said that when he asked the Times’ lead negotiator, Bernard Plum, if he was open to the idea of having pension experts come in to discuss the issue, Plum said yes.
O’Meara, in a letter to Guild members, quoted Plum as stating, “We are definitely interested and gratified that you’re attempting to put forward a proposal to fix costs. We’re going to go into this with a completely open mind.”
The Guild yesterday released a new video in which three Pulitzer Prize winners, Kevin Sack, Dan Barry and Amy Harmon, criticize Times management for the slow pace of negotiations — but the video mixes in some compliments and is less of a broadside than past video blasts from the union, which represents 1,100 employees.
When Media Ink called the Times, it responded as it had on previous occasions: “We look forward to reaching a full and fair agreement with the Guild.”
The talks are slated to resume tomorrow.