Fired AOL India employee talks

AOL cut more than 900 jobs around the world today — 20 percent of its staff — and  India took a pretty tough cut from the axe: 400 jobs, according to several sources, and 300 contractors, according to another source. The nice thing for Reuters is that we have a big  bureau in Bangalore, not too far from AOL, and plenty of our people know other people there and were able to get important details about the job cuts.

I coordinated some of the coverage from here since I’m hanging out in the bureau, and was happy when I heard that my colleague Nivedita Bhattacharjee got time to talk with one of the employees who was laid off today. Here is some of what he told her. We agreed to his request for anonymity because he wants to get work again and does not want to disqualify himself from jobs because he spoke to the press.

The entire team had a meeting, and they briefed us about how issues will be handled… we work in AOL. It’s something that we are always prepared (for). We were expecting an announcement soon.

They had some U.S.-centric plans, so they didn’t need us.

I’m leaving on good terms. It’s quite a good severance package… In many ways people are satisfied — we are getting four months’ salary as compensation and, depending on each case, there will be other benefits added to it.

Every fired employee (gets) four months of severance, which is pretty good, but with this action, nobody really has much faith in management, and (we) have been scarred by the experience of easily being let go … after being told for months prior that we were a valuable asset. …

New York Times job cuts: Read the memo

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, 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:


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.

Newspaper Association cuts jobs, ditches print

I suppose that it’s natural that your representatives in Washington should be people who reflect their constituencies. In that spirit, there are reports out that the Newspaper Association of America — a tireless defender of print newspapers even as ad revenue crumbles all around them — is cutting the print edition of its magazine, along with half its jobs.

I’ve left messages with several NAA contacts, but in the meantime, We confirmed the news with the NAA — 39 jobs going away. Meanwhile, here is an excerpt from a report on AOL’s Daily Finance site:

The Newspaper Association of America (NAA) is the not-for-profit organization that represents the interests of over 2,000 newspapers and other print publications. Its roots can be traced back to 1887, and for many years its magazine Presstime has kept members up-to-date on trends in the marketplace. Therefore, it seems sadly ironic that the NAA is killing its print edition of Presstime. The magazine will now be available in an on-line version only.

New jobs from job losses, for $29.95

Here’s one from my colleague, San Francisco bureau reporter David Lawsky:

The recession is good business for Volusion, whose business is demonstrating the common wisdom that some people who lose their jobs become involuntary entrepreneurs.

The company hosts Websites for businesses. Its soup-to-nuts site requires no programming experience and lets beginning entrepreneurs — or anyone — start out at $29.95 a month. Corporations pay more.

“We’ve been on a hiring binge. We definitely need people to keep up with the growth,” said Clay Olivier, Volusion’s chief operating officer.

Sound familiar? McClatchy cutting jobs

These have been a couple of ugly weeks for the newspaper industry. First, EW Scripps pulled the plug on the Rocky Mountain News, and then, today, McClatchy said it was cutting about 1,600 jobs, representing 15 percent of its workforce.

For those who like to look at the bright side of things, McClatchy isn’t shutting down The Miami Herald, Sacramento Bee or Anchorage Daily News. But the staff cuts are deep and undoubtedly will hurt  the quality and depth of coverage at some of those newspapers. How couldn’t they? After all, they come on top of two other major rounds of layoffs at McClatchy.

The move isn’t really a surprise, given that McClatchy said back in early February that it had to come up with a plan to cuts more costs given the deterioration of the industry. Still, it seems job cuts at the company come as frequently as seasons change.

Tech cos to H-1B workers: We feel your pain

Technology companies, which have laid off hundreds of thousands of workers, are already feeling the heat from politicians about their support of the H-1B foreign worker program at a time when many Americans are jobless. (Read the Reuters story explaining why, as a result, tech companies might have to tone down their campaign to hire more H-1B workers this year.)

Last month, Microsoft was the specific target of Republican Senator Charles Grassley, who shot off a letter to the tech bellwether saying it should lay off foreign workers before laying off domestic workers.

Microsoft responded it was laying off both H-1B workers and Americans, and that it was extending support equally to all affected employees. While that may be the case, foreign workers often have a harder time if they’re laid off.

from MacroScope:

So many ways to say goodbye

It takes a delicate touch to make job cuts sound more palatable. As U.S. companies reduce payrolls by the thousands, the press releases seem to be getting more and more creative.

Check out today's announcement from The Reader's Digest Association, which is eliminating 8 percent of its global workforce and suspending matching contributions to employees' 401(k) retirement accounts. Somehow it stings a bit less when you tell employees that it's all part of a "Recession Plan" right?

"We have announced a comprehensive 'Recession Plan', which is our internal roadmap for dealing with the extraordinary effects of this recession on consumer spending," Mary Berner, president and CEO, said in a statement.