This is not a season of glad tidings for the newspaper business, which is finishing up the year with more cost-cutting, including layoffs, as publishers
struggle to regain some financial equilibrium.
On Tuesday, The Washington Post’s vice-president for human resources, Wayne Connell, sent a memo to employees, first publicized by Washington City Paper, warning of “our urgent need to reduce costs” and announcing that the newspaper was ending tuition reimbursement, a perk used by some employees for professional development.
Dropping tuition reimbursement is unlikely to set the newspaper on a firm footing, meaning layoffs are a distinct possibility.
WCP also published excerpts from a memo from WP managing editor John Temple, who warned that the newspaper Web site will be automating some editorial functions, including story placement, previously handled by WaPo employees.
Also this week, the Cleveland Plain Dealer revealed plans to lay off around a third of its editorial staff in 2013, according to local Newspaper Guild members, who were informed of the decision. Advance Publications, which owns the newspaper, is planning to eliminate 58 out of 168 positions, although some employees may be offered new positions at the newspaper Web site, Cleveland.com.
Management also said it would seek to eliminate a further 20 newsroom positions after 2013.
In November, Plain Dealer employees began a media campaign to “Save the Plain Dealer,” including outdoor and print ads, after Advance warned that big changes were coming to the newspaper. Based on similar moves at the New Orleans Times-Picayune, also owned by Advance, this could include a reduction in frequency from seven to three days a week.
Finally, in a memo to employees on Monday, New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson said she was hoping to find 30 nonunion newsroom managers to accept buyout offers. She warned the company would resort to layoffs if it can’t find recruits. In the memo, Abramson bluntly noted: “There is no getting around the hard news that the size of the newsroom staff must be reduced.” If all 30 buyout offers find takers, it will reduce the newsroom staff from around 1,150 people to 1,120, or 2.6%.