New York Times axes 100 jobs and imposes 5% pay cut

NEW YORK - The New York Times Company is cutting 100 jobs from its business operation and cutting salaries 5% for the rest of staff, while an unspecified number of voluntary redundancies are planned at the Washington Post.

In New York, news of the jobs cuts, with a further announcement that all staff will have their salaries cut by 5% for the rest of the year, was delivered to employees via two internal memos yesterday signed by New York Times chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr and chief executive Janet Robinson.

One memo said: "This was a very difficult decision to make. The environment we are in is the toughest we have seen in our years in business."

The memos also said that further newsroom cuts at the New York Times might be necessary if union employees do not approve the 5% cutback.

The salary reduction affects all employees at the New York Times Media Group and its corporate entity, as well as those at The Boston Globe and Boston.com.

Staff at New York Times subsidiary businesses, including About.com, will see a 2.5% reduction instead. In exchange, employees will be given additional days off over the course of the year.

The announcement follows a raft of money-saving measures -- including slashing its dividend and leasing back its new headquarters -- which failed to ease the paper's money woes. Earlier this year the company borrowed $250m from Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim.

Earlier this week the New York Times offloaded regional newspaper The TimesDaily in Alabama as part of its efforts to concentrate on its core business.

The Washington Post was slight on details about its voluntary redundancy strategy, its fourth round since 2003. However, a leaked memo disclosed that those eligible must be at least 50 years old, and have at least five years of service.

A lump sum payment of up to one and a half times the employee's salary based on years of service will be granted and employees are expected to retire by June or July of this year.

The redundancies will be directed mainly towards the Post's newsroom, production and circulation staff.

In the memo, Post publisher Katharine Weymouth said: "I need not tell you that our industry is undergoing a seismic shift as readers face an array of media choices and our traditional advertising and circulation bases decline.

"The good news is that the appetite for news is as robust as ever. Thanks to our presence on the internet and on mobile phones and other devices, our audience includes more readers now than we have ever had.

"But while online revenues have been growing, they have not yet grown fast enough to offset the declines we are seeing in print revenues. As we move forward, our path is pretty straightforward: we will have to reduce our cost structure."

The announcement at the Post comes a day after chief executive Donald Graham informed shareholders that the Post and Newsweek haemorrhaged cash in 2008 and will continue to do so in 2009.

Earlier this week, employees at Gannett, publisher of USA Today, were asked to take more unpaid leave in a bid to save costs, after an initial week in the first quarter saved the company a reported $20m (£13.6m).

Most Gannett employees will be forced to take five day's unpaid leave in April, May or June, while others will have salaries reduced to reflect a week's pay, depending on the company's various divisions and locations.

Last month, Hearst-owned Seattle Post-Intelligencer ended its print edition, now functioning solely online at Seattlepi.com, which was followed this week by the Ann Arbor News in Michigan.

The precedent for such moves was created in October when the US daily Christian Science Monitor ended its print edition after 100 years, also moving its content 100% digital.

Hearst's San Francisco Chronicle is also struggling to remain on newsstands -- staff at the 144-year old title recently agreed to pay cuts and longer hours in a bid to make it through the recession.

Staff action was unable to save EW Scripps' Rocky Mountain News in Denver, which ceased publication at the end of February after 150 years.

Blog posts of the newspaper crises:

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