NYT plans to cut 100 newsroom jobs

NYT plans to cut 100 newsroom jobs

Bad times

In an email to staff, the US paper’s executive editor, Bill Keller, on Tuesday said the publisher would be offering voluntary redundancy packages to employees. But he warned that if take-up proves to be poor, The NYT will shift up a gear to compulsory layoffs. “If we do not reach 100 positions through buyouts, we will be forced to go to layoffs,” wrote Keller. “I hope that won’t happen, but it might.”

The paper, nicknamed the ‘grey lady’, is published by the New York Times Company which also owns The International Herald Tribune, The Boston Globe, 15 regional papers and dozens of websites. This parent company recently reported a $35m (£21.3m) loss for the first half of the year, hit by a drop in both print and online advertising.

The staff at The NYT have already taken five per cent pay cuts and Keller admitted that those who remain will face larger workloads.

“I won’t pretend that these staff cuts will not add to the burdens of journalists whose responsibilities have grown faster than their compensation,” he wrote. “But we have been looking hard at ways to minimise the impact — in part, by re-engineering some of our copy flow.”

The paper’s newsroom employs 1,250 people, far more than any other American newspaper, and it is one of the few titles with national distribution in the US. Pay reductions announced last year were intended to avert job losses but the publisher’s financial deterioration has proven worse than anticipated.

Newspapers in both Britain and the US have been badly hit by a migration of classified advertising to the internet and by a pull-back in spending on display advertising by companies suffering in the recession. Print circulation, in many cases, has been weak as younger readers opt to get their news from the web, although the NYT has maintained its newsstand revenue by raising its cover price.

One of the world’s richest men, the Mexican telecoms tycoon Carlos Slim, lent $250m to The NYT Company earlier this year to bolster its coffers. The company’s challenges have included big losses at The Boston Globe, where staff were threatened with closure unless they accepted deep cutbacks earlier in the year.

The crisis afflicting the industry has prompted several major US newspapers, including The Seattle Post-Intelligencer and The Rocky Mountain News, to cease print publication. Others, including The Los Angeles Times and The Chicago Tribune, are operating under bankruptcy protection.

In common with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation titles, the NYT has been examining the possibility of recouping lost revenue by charging for access to its website. The paper said earlier this year that it was examining either a “metered” system whereby readers would be required to pay after a certain number of page views, or a “membership” model charging for certain special offerings.