New York Times job cuts: Read the memo

October 19, 2009

The New York Times will cut 100 positions in its newsroom by the end of the year, Executive Editor Bill Keller told staff on Monday. This is the second time that the paper has taken this unfortunate step, having cut 100 positions last year (though, as Richard Perez-Pena reported in his story on nytimes.com, other positions were added so it was not a net reduction). Thing is, the TImes already cut pay for journalists and other employees this year in an attempt to forestall cuts. So… it’s not good news, but it is fit to print. Here is Keller’s memo:

Colleagues,

I had planned to invite you to the newsroom and break this news in person today, but I’ve been hit by something that seems to be the flu. Though I strongly believe in delivering bad news in person, I don’t want to add insult to injury by spreading infection.

Let me cut to the chase: We have been told to reduce the newsroom by 100 positions between now and the end of the year.

We hope to accomplish this by offering voluntary buyouts. On Thursday, the Company will be sending buyout offers to everyone in the newsroom. Getting a buyout package does NOT mean we want you to leave. It is simply easier to send the envelopes to everyone. If you think a buyout may be right for you, you have up to 45 days to decide whether you will accept it or not.

As before, if we do not reach 100 positions through buyouts, we will be forced to go to layoffs. I hope that won’t happen, but it might.

Our colleagues in editorial and op-ed, and on the business side, also face another round of budget cuts.

In recent years, we’ve managed to avoid the disabling cutbacks that have hit other newsrooms. The Company has chosen to protect the journalism by cutting production and other business-side costs, and the newsroom itself has managed its resources frugally. These latest cuts will still leave us with the largest, strongest and most ambitious editorial staff of any newsroom in the country, if not the world.

I won’t pretend that these staff cuts will not add to the burdens of journalists whose responsibilities have grown faster than their compensation. But we’ve been looking hard at ways to minimize the impact — in part, by re-engineering some of our copy flow. I won’t promise this will be easy or painless, but I believe we can weather these cuts without seriously compromising our commitment to coverage of the region, the country and the world. We will remain the single best news organization on earth.

I doubt that anyone is shocked by the fact of this, but it is happening sooner than anyone anticipated. When we took our 5 percent pay cuts, it was in the hope that this would fend off the need for more staff cuts this year. But I accept that if it’s going to happen, it should be done quickly. We will get through this and move on.

In my absence, Bill Schmidt and John and Jill have volunteered to take your questions this afternoon. Feel free to bring additional questions to me as soon as I’m back, or check with Bill Schmidt or John or Jill privately, or save them for the next Throw Stuff at Bill session, which is in a couple of weeks.

We often — and rightly — voice our gratitude that we work for a company and a family that prize quality journalism above all. I hope you know that the company and the family, and I, feel an equal debt of gratitude to all of you whose sacrifice and loyalty have kept us strong.

Like you, I yearn for the day when we can do our jobs without looking over our shoulders for economic thunderstorms.

Bill

(Photo: Reuters)

 

3 comments

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Bill Schmidt:
There is no such thing as job security. My suggestion to you and those who are getting the pink slips is to buy a small business. You don’t have to watch over your shoulder for the next economic thunderstorm, punch a clock or worry if you are five minutes late (after 17 years of dedication etc)your supervisor will call you out for tardiness. The stress is less and the upside is far more palatable. We have small companies in the $1 million-$15 million sales range in warm, sunny, beautiful Southern California and in the pipeline for a variety of different buyers.

[...] MediaFile » Blog Archive » New York Times job cuts: Read the memo … [...]

While it is sad to hear of anyone losing their job, I must say that The New York Times and its “journalists” have promoted their own demise.

This once great paper has abandoned journalistic principles and become an unrepentant advocate of the Left without any attempts at balance or fairness. I terminated my subscription for this very reason.

The once famous masthead motto of “All the news that’s fit to print” has taken on sinister meaning as the story must now fit the political agenda of the paper. Other stories which might be at variance with the party line are ignored, dismissed or shuttled to the inside pages.

I wish these writers well and suggest they either rededicate themselves to the who what when where and why of journalistic integrity or find work in another field of occupation.

Posted by pdc | Report as abusive

Who reads that garbage paper anyway? Exactly.

Posted by Frank | Report as abusive

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