Friday, February 15, 2008

New York Times to cut 100 jobs

The New York Times is cutting 100 jobs from its newsroom this year as financial pressures mount from a weak economy and competition from the Internet.

Executive Editor Bill Keller told employees in a meeting Thursday that the cuts would come mainly through attrition and buyouts, but layoffs were also possible.

New York Times spokeswoman Catherine Mathis said the paper has a total of 1,332 newsroom employees throughout the paper, which would make the cutbacks equivalent to nearly 8 percent of its editorial staff.

The Times' parent company, The New York Times Co., has cut jobs at other properties, including about 125 positions last year at The Boston Globe and the Telegram & Gazette of Worcester, Mass.

But reporting jobs at the Times' flagship paper had been relatively untouched until now, and the cuts announced Thursday will result in the first net reduction in reporting jobs there in recent memory.

Last November the paper eliminated about a dozen newsroom support staff but no reporters. Mathis said the Times' newsroom has been generally growing in recent years, and had 1,078 employees in 1998.

Bill O'Meara, president of the Newspaper Guild of New York, said the union would work with the Times to minimize the possibility of involuntary buyouts.

A spokesman for the Newspaper Guild of New York did not immediately return a call for comment.

Newspaper publishers around the country have been retrenching with job cuts and other cost-saving measures as their advertising revenues suffer because of competition from the Internet and weakness in the economy, which have especially hurt their lucrative classified advertising business.

On Wednesday employees at the country's No. 2 newspaper publisher, Chicago-based Tribune Co., were told that company would eliminate hundreds of jobs at the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and other publications in the latest effort there to reduce costs.

Print advertising revenues have been declining steadily at U.S. newspapers for more than a year, according to figures from the Newspaper Association of America, an industry group. Gains in online advertising have been making up for some, but not all of the losses.

Overall newspaper advertising fell 7.4 percent in the third quarter of 2007, the most recent period for which the NAA has reported data. Print advertising, which still makes up the vast majority of newspapers' revenues, fell 9 percent to $10.1 billion (euro6.9 billion) in the quarter while online advertising grew 21 percent to $773 million (euro528.5 million).

The New York Times Co. reported a 4.1 percent decline in overall advertising for the fourth quarter of 2007, excluding the effect of an extra week in the year-ago period. The declines were even worse in December, when overall newspaper advertising fell 13.8 percent, also excluding the extra week in the 2006 period.