“Voluntary Retirement Incentive Programs”

The Post just gave out its final word on the buyouts, er, “Voluntary Retirement Incentive Programs”:

March 10, 2006

TO: The Post’s Managers, Supervisors, and News and Commercial Department Employees

FROM: Bo Jones

This Spring The Post is planning to offer voluntary retirement incentive programs in the News, Commercial, and Production Departments. The details of these programs are still being worked out, and we will let you know when they are finalized. They will cover certain exempt staff and certain Guild-covered employees.

The upcoming retirement incentive programs are voluntary and will be designed to allow employees — basically those whose functions will not have to be replaced or can be reassigned — to retire this year with enhanced retirement benefits. They will be offered selectively, only where the newspaper can save costs. These programs do not involve layoffs.

We’ve offered retirement incentive programs to employees from time to time in the past to reduce staffing when conditions warranted it. During the past year newspaper revenues have flattened while expenses — particularly newsprint — have continued to rise. Departments have always adjusted their staffing to meet reader needs and business conditions, as we are doing now.

The Post is a very strong newspaper today. We will continue to approach staffing here in ways that serve the newspaper’s basic goals. Those goals are to extend the quality of the newspaper’s journalism, to grow readership and advertising revenues, and to help the website in ways we can.

As we reported yesterday, this looks to cut roughly 80 jobs (10 percent of the newsroom).

Some other news:

1. Stock tables are here to stay…for now. The leadership believes that there is a very loyal readership for that section.

2. Plans for the Daily Source are in the final stage of development.

3. They’re trying to jazz up the Business Section, potentially by getting rid of the Monday WashBiz section and make it more about personal technology. They hope to change the Sunday Business section in order to make it more about money — how you make it, how you spend it, how you invest it, and how you save it.

4. They’re looking into the possibility of reducing one nightly edition (currently, there are three). They’re exploring the possibility of dropping to two – although they can always stop the presses and add editions if major news warrants it.

5. A lot of chatter about major changes to the regional Extra supplements now that the paper is triple zoned. Some Extras might disappear. since so much of the news from the bigger Extras appears in daily Metro, the Extras might become more service-oriented.

6. Foreign is looking at employing super-stringers in regions where we don’t have bureaus. These won’t be folks sent from Washington, as we understand it, but reporters who are already in the region – possibly locals/natives – and who can do good work in English. Sounds like the first will be in Saudi Arabia.