NAA Cuts 50% of Staff; Halts Presstime

While its members struggle under a punishing economic downturn and a secular transition to digital, the Newspaper Association of America is cutting its staff by 50 percent and will cease publication of the print edition of the magazine Presstime.

The association trimmed 39 positions this afternoon in response to the downturn in the industry, with 43 staffers remaining. In a memo to employees, President and CEO John Sturm wrote the steps were necessary and were taken at the direction of the board. “To be direct, industry economics compelled this round of staff reductions–to ensure we remain an affordable value to our members,” he wrote.

Sturm also said the association is looking to further reduce member dues.

The last print edition of Presstime will be the May 2009 issue but the NAA will continue to publish a digital form. “Continuing the Presstime mission online is part of the transformation very much in line with the changes our members are making to their own businesses,” Spokesperson and Presstime Publisher Su-Lin Cheng Nichols said.

The brutal environment has caught many in the industry off-guard with unprecedented advertising revenue declines. “As it is clear from news coverage of the first quarter financials, this downturn is sharper and more severe than anyone saw coming even six months ago,” Sturm wrote. “Unfortunately, no one has suggested that the bottom has been reached yet.”

Still the NAA, which announced last spring it was streamlining its organization to meet the changing needs of its members, will still champion newspapers on the Hill, while focusing on helping newspapers grow advertising revenue and audience.

“Even in this difficult situation, we must remain optimistic,” Sturm wrote.