Monday, December 3, 2012

New York Times Seeks Buyouts From 30 in Newsroom

The New York Times

Aiming to cut costs in an increasingly troubled advertising environment, The New York Times announced on Monday morning that it would offer buyout packages to newsroom employees. While the primary goal of the buyout program is to trim managers and other nonunion employees from its books, the company is offering employees represented by the Newspaper Guild the chance to volunteer for buyout packages as well.

In a letter to the staff, Jill Abramson, executive editor of The Times, said she was seeking 30 managers who are not union members to accept buyout packages. She stressed that the paper had been reducing as many newsroom expenses as possible, like leases on foreign and national bureaus. But the hiring The Times has done in recent years to help make it more competitive online has restored the newsroom to the same size it was in 2003 — about 1,150 people.

Jill Abramson, executive editor
“There is no getting around the hard news that the size of the newsroom staff must be reduced,” Ms. Abramson said in the letter.

Employees have until Jan. 24 to accept a severance package. Ms. Abramson pointed out in her note that the business side had cut its staff by more than 60 percent in recent years. The company recently announced that it was offering buyouts to 30 employees in the advertising department. The newsroom had its most extensive cuts in 2008 when it eliminated 100 jobs through buyouts and layoffs. Ms. Abramson urged employees to consider “whether accepting a voluntary severance package at this time in your life makes sense.”

She added: “I hope the needed savings can be achieved through voluntary buyouts but if not, I will be forced to go to layoffs among the excluded staff.”

These buyouts are not being offered to members of the editorial department. Andrew Rosenthal, the editorial page editor, wrote in a note that “we, too, have made reductions to our expenses to meet our share of this burden, but we are not going to be offering buyouts in the Editorial Department at this time.”

Arthur Sulzberger Jr.
The newspaper industry as a whole is confronting a drastic falloff in advertising revenue. Print advertising at The New York Times Company’s newspapers, which include The New York Times, The Boston Globe and The International Herald Tribune, shrank 10.9 percent, according to the latest earnings report. Digital advertising across the company fell 2.2 percent.

“These are financially challenging times,” Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the chairman of the Times Company, said in a statement. “While our digital subscription plan has been highly successful, the advertising climate remains volatile and we don’t see this changing in the near future.”

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