In a move that could serve as a sign of hard times to come for the industry as a whole, The New York Times plans to eliminate 20 newsroom jobs.
On Thursday, an email memo was sent to the newsroom staff announcing “a limited buyout opportunity to newsroom volunteers.” The memo emphasized that this does not mean the company will be handing out pink slips. “The offering to the newsroom is . . . wholly voluntary," it said. "No matter how many people do or do not raise their hands, no one in the newsroom—either Guild or excluded—will be laid off as a result of this program.”
The Times aims to “eliminate 20 newsroom positions purely through voluntary buyouts; there will be no layoffs,” Eileen Murphy, vice president of corporate communications, told Adweek. This would represent about a 2 percent decrease in the size of the newsroom staff, which numbers about 1,100.
In the memo, the company was frank about the realities of the current economic situation, even while it stressed its commitment to keeping up the journalistic standards of the Times. “While we remain as loyal as ever to Times journalism and journalists, the uncertain economy has posed a continuing and difficult challenge to the Times: how to rebalance our business for the digital age while remaining steadfast to the quality journalism that defines us?”
Like most newspapers, the Times has financially suffered from continued weakness in ad revenue. “They are now figuring out that that trend may last and the only offset is to cut costs. They have paper, they have printing, and they have people. They’ve cut back paper usage . . . the only thing left is to trim staff,” said Edward Atorino, a media analyst at Benchmark LLC.