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NYT, Post plan pay cuts, lay offs

March 27, 2009 11:18 IST

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The story of gloom and doom continues to haunt the US economy. With advertising revenue going downhill, two of US newspaper majors -- The New York Times and The Washington Post -- plan another round of pay cuts and layoffs.

Facing financial difficulties, the New York Times Company has imposed five per cent temporary pay cut for most employees and laid off 100 workers.

The cuts were mandated for management and non-union employees, and the Newspaper Guild has been asked to agree to them for those it represents on the newsroom staff.

If the union does not agree, executive editor Bill Keller said during a meeting of hundreds of staff members in the paper's main newsroom, 'we will face layoffs, probably on the order of 60 to 70 people,' out of almost 1,300 on the news staff.

Keller said it would make other cuts, like reducing spending on freelancers by 10 to 15 per cent and possibly consolidating some sections.

The planned 5 per cent pay cut for nine months, coupled with an additional 10 days of leave, would apply to most employees at the largest units, including The Times and the corporate offices, and to most non-union employees at The Boston Globe.

Across the company, the Times said, advertising revenue fell 13.1 per cent in 2008, and 17.6 per cent in the fourth quarter. Executives declined to provide any 2009 figures, but said that so far the year has been worse than expected. 

In a message to employees published in the newspaper, chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr and chief executive Janet L Robinson wrote, "The environment we are in is the toughest we have seen in our years in business."

The Times Company's pay reductions will be in effect from April through December, and staff members will revert to their previous salary level in 2010 unless economic conditions fail to improve, company officials were quoted as saying

The Guild, which is the largest union at The Times and the only one the company asked for concessions, represents most newsroom employees, and a smaller number in other departments.

The company declined to say whether it would seek any concessions from union employees at The Globe. At smaller parts of the company, including About.com and a chain of small papers, wages will be cut 2.5 per cent and employees will get five days off.

The layoffs announced Thursday, the paper said, represent almost 5 per cent of the more than 2,000 employees in the business operations of The Times newspaper.

The company laid off 27 people in The Times's advertising department last month, and about 500 people in January, with the closing of City and Suburban, a newspaper and magazine distribution subsidiary.

At the end of 2008, the company had 9,346 employees, down from 10,710 working in the same operations two years ago.



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