The Buyouts At The 'New York Times'

When we spoke to New York Times flack Catherine Mathis on Tuesday, she told us that the "$14 to 16 million" in planned staff reductions for this fourth quarter of the year were "not unusual." Mathis said she had "in front of me a chart that goes back to the first quarter of '06 and we've had buyouts in place in every quarter over the last seven quarters." This is an excellent example of providing selective information!

According to the company's financial disclosures, staff reductions announced in the latest earnings report are actually far and away the highest—by around $5 million—of the last seven quarters.

Mathis told us these buyouts were "certainly not the largest that we've had." Correct. They are the second-largest. Over the last 12 quarters, the only staff reductions higher were in the fourth quarter of 2005—a hefty $35.4 million.

That higher numbers appear in the fourth quarter of the year makes sense. Staff reductions are influenced in part by employee decisions about when they choose to take buyouts, and in general, the end of the year is a more popular time to grab your parachute and self-eject.

And sure. It's possible that NYTCo is still paying off staff associated with the second-quarter closing of two printing plants (pesky unions!); "most of the reductions are associated with the consolidation of the two printing plants in College Point and Edison, N.J." is what Mathis told us. Guess we'll see!