Nearly two dozen staffers will leave The Seattle Times, as a result of the daily newspaper’s falling ad revenue.
While digital subscriber revenue at the newspaper has grown, the increases “aren’t sufficient to offset structural advertising losses,” executive editor Don Shelton said in an email to newsroom employees Friday, informing them that 23 people are expected to leave, including five non-union staff members who have taken buyouts.
Seattle Times EVP and CFO Alan Fisco warned employees of potential cuts in December, and said the paper is "forced to join the rest of the industry in adjusting to ever-lower advertising revenue. Industry advertising trends worsened in the second half of the year nationally. This trend is anticipated to continue for 2017."
Fourteen newsroom union members, which include reporters, desk editors and news page designers, among others, were notified Friday they would likely be laid off if not enough people signed up for voluntary buyouts.
Union members will have until Jan. 20 to request buyouts.
Two employees have decided to leave. Two others accepted jobs at The Seattle Times outside the newsroom. Their former positions won’t be replaced.
Shelton added these numbers could change going forward. The newspaper will undergo a restructuring soon. The Seattle Times has about 170 newsroom employees and is the largest newspaper organization in the Pacific Northwest.
The newspaper went through a similar downsizing process a year ago. Fifteen staffers took the buyouts and left at that time.
"We are into the bone," a staffer told Seattle’s weekly arts and culture newspaper The Stranger. "Every cut means news won't get covered. I question how we can do it."
Shelton has made his 2017 plans for The Seattle Times clear: The paper will focus on posting content earlier and more often, with fewer layers of editing. Some posts will be shorter, and the paper will aggregate content from other sources. There will also be changes to some beat coverage.
The paper's print product will continue to publish seven days a week.
The Seattle Times was founded in 1896 by the Blethen family. Its current publisher and CEO, Frank Blethen, is the fourth generation to oversee the paper.
The Seattle Times did not immediately respond to requests for comment at press time.