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New York Times to cut 100 jobs in newsroom

The New York Times said Monday it will cut 100 newsroom jobs and an unspecified number elsewhere amid industrywide declines in advertising revenue.
/ Source: The Associated Press

The New York Times said Monday it will cut 100 newsroom jobs and an unspecified number elsewhere amid industrywide declines in advertising revenue.

The Times will offer voluntary buyouts at first but will resort to layoffs if it cannot meet the targets.

"I hope that won't happen, but it might," Executive Editor Bill Keller wrote in a memo to staff.

The Times, flagship of The New York Times Co., cut its newsroom work force by 100 positions last year mostly through buyouts, but Keller said then that the newspaper had to make a "relatively small" number of involuntary cuts to meet that target.

Even with the latest cuts, amounting to 8 percent of the newsroom staff, the Times has the largest newsgathering staff of any U.S. newspaper. The cuts would leave the newsroom with about 1,150 reporters and editors.

The Times already trimmed about 100 positions from its business operations this spring and plans additional cuts. The newspaper would not say how many. The business side now employs about 1,850.

The newspaper has so far avoided the deep newsroom cutbacks that have become a regular occurrence at America's big-city dailies.

Newspapers such as the Times have been seeing sharp declines in ad revenue from their printed editions, and Web advertising hasn't grown fast enough to make up the difference. Meanwhile, many readers are abandoning print subscriptions for free news online, forcing the Times and other newspapers to consider Web access fees.

American newsrooms shed some 5,900 jobs just last year, according to the American Society of News Editors. At the Times, both union and nonunion workers took a 5 percent pay cut this spring as the newspaper tried to avoid cutting more jobs.

"I won't pretend that these staff cuts will not add to the burdens of journalists whose responsibilities have grown faster than their compensation," Keller wrote. He said the newspaper is looking to reorganize the newsroom flow to minimize the impact of the latest cuts.

All news staff — union and nonunion — will receive buyout offers Thursday and have 45 days to decide.

"They're really starting to cut into the newsroom now, which is unfortunate," said Bill O'Meara, head of the New York Newspaper Guild, the newspaper's largest union. "We hope all this can be achieved on a voluntary basis."

Times management told the Guild in September that it was open to offering buyouts before layoffs. It also promised to restore union salaries at the end of December, though it has not extended the guarantee to nonunion workers.

O'Meara said the union would meet with the Times management on Tuesday to hash out details of the necessary paperwork for buyouts, but the basic terms are set by contract. He said union workers who take buyouts are entitled to as much as two year's pay depending on seniority, plus extended health care coverage.