Updated: Southern Discomfort: Atlanta Journal-Constitution Cuts Newsroom
Last week delivered more bad news for the newspaper business. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said Friday it plans to cut 80 newsroom jobs from a total 475--in addition to trimming its circulation by 5%. It's the latest big-name paper to wield the ax, and like its brethren, AJC executives positioned the reductions as part of a larger strategic shift to Web publishing.
Executives from owner Cox Enterprises hope to accomplish the newsroom slim-down without layoffs; it will offer voluntary buyout packages to employees. The circulation cut comes in the form of a geographic withdrawal, abandoning outlying areas to focus on the Atlanta metropolitan area.
This means the paper is cutting its distribution from 207 counties to just 73. In the last FAS-FAX report from the Audit Bureau of Circulations, covering the six months ending September 2006, the AJC saw paid circulation fall 8% on Sundays to 523,968, and 3.5% during the week to 350,157.
In January, The New York Times Company announced its intention to offer buyouts to 125 employees from two newspapers in its New England Media Group: The Boston Globe and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. As part of these cuts, they hope to trim the Globe's editorial operations by 19 employees.
A similar program near the end of 2005 helped cut about 160 employees. Over the last several years, the New England Media Group has posted the biggest percent losses of any New York Times Co. division. On a year-over-year basis, ad revenue in the first quarter of 2006 declined 7%, compared to the same period of 2005, second quarter dipped 10%, and third quarter saw a 12% drop.
The Philadelphia Inquirer began a long-predicted round of layoffs with 71 newsroom staffers shown the door--about 17% of the newsroom. Brian Tierney, the publisher and CEO of Inquirer owner Philadelphia Media Holdings, is rumored to have more layoffs in mind--perhaps as much as 30% of the newsroom, or about 150 people.
Shortly after Tierney and a group of local investors purchased the Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News in May 2006, he vowed an end to the strategy of "cut, cut, cut for short-term profits" that typified corporate ownership. The group cites unavoidable market pressures for the change of course.