NY Times, Washington Post to cull staff

Mar 26, 2009
People walk past the Washington Post building in Washington, DC. The New York Times and Washington Post, two of the most prestigious titles in American journalism, plan another round of pay cuts, layoffs and buyouts amid a steep decline in advertising revenue.

The New York Times and Washington Post, two of the most prestigious titles in American journalism, plan another round of pay cuts, layoffs and buyouts amid a steep decline in advertising revenue.

The reported on Thursday that its parent company, the Times Co. plans to cut the pay of most by five percent for nine months, in return for 10 days of leave, and to lay off 100 people.

The reported that employees were being offered another round of buyouts, or early retirement packages -- the second within a year -- in an effort to cut costs.

The Times said the will be in effect from April to December and will apply to staff at the newspaper in addition to the flagship New York Times.

It said the company will ask the Guild, the union which represents most newsroom employees, to accept the five percent cut and 10 days off voluntarily to avoid possible .

The newspaper said there would also be pay cuts of about 2.5 percent at smaller parts of the Times Co., including About.com and a chain of small newspapers. Employees will get five days off.

It said the 100 layoffs would be on the business side of the newspaper.

At the end of 2008, the Times Co. had a total of 9,346 employees, the newspaper said, down from 10,710 two years earlier. The Times eliminated 100 jobs from its 1,300-strong newsroom last year.

The Post said the latest buyouts were being offered to employees aged 50 or more, with five years of Post service.

"This program will be limited to areas where positions do not need to be replaced or where we can otherwise achieve costs savings," publisher Katharine Weymouth was quoted as saying in an e-mail to employees.

"While we expect to be able to achieve meaningful staff reductions through" the buyouts, Weymouth said, "I am sorry to say that we cannot rule out layoffs in the future."

The newspaper said the targeted departments include the Post newsroom, the production and circulation departments, and a small number of positions in the advertising and information technology departments.

The Post said 231 employees took buyouts last year and the newsroom now employs 700 people.

The Post recorded an operating loss of 25 million dollars last year and it quoted Post Co. chairman Donald Graham as saying in a letter to shareholders that he expects to lose "substantial money" in 2009.

Like other US newspapers, the Times and the Post have been grappling with a steep drop in print , steadily declining circulation and the migration of readers to free news online.

Two major newspapers -- the Rocky Mountain News of Denver, Colorado, and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer -- have shut down in recent weeks and the Christian Science Monitor plans to publish its final print edition on Friday.

(c) 2009 AFP

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