Who Should Take Buyouts at the 'Times'?

New York Times Associate managing editor William "Bill" Schmidt just sent an email around the paper begging people to accept buyout offers, for the good of everyone else. "Each buyout we record before next Tuesday reduces the number of layoffs we will have to seek." Retire! Earlier today, Radar media critic Charles Kaiser named a couple people who might take buyouts, but none of them were people we want to see leave. None of them are responsible for Thursday Styles, after all. Though we suppose the idea is for old people to leave, right? Can Clyde Haberman take one? Wait, is Clyde Haberman still alive? Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Dan Barry can stay as long as he goes back to investigative reporting and not writing columns about quaint happenings in quaint places. Oh, and COUGH COUGH ALESSANDRA STANLEY? Your further suggestions are appreciated. Full memo after the jump.

To the staff

About six weeks ago Bill Keller announced that the newsroom would need to reduce its head count by about 100 jobs, as a result of the worsening financial picture facing this newspaper and the rest of our industry. To that end, we put on the table a round of buyouts, and began seeking volunteers among both our Guild and excluded employees.

The window for those voluntary buyouts closes officially next week — on Monday, April 21, for excluded members of the staff, and on that day and the next (Tuesday, April 22), for Guild applicants.

While we will not know the hard count until that time, every effort to handicap the outcome suggests that we are almost certain to fall short of the number of volunteers we will need. If that is indeed the case, as we expect it will be, we will — regrettably — be forced resort to some limited number of layoffs within the core newsroom.

While layoffs have become all too common across our industry, this is the first time the newsroom as a whole has confronted that blunt reality, and we approach it with a heavy heart. Even as people and jobs go away, the reductions will have a continuing impact across the newsroom, as we regroup and reorganize departments and even juggle some assignments to ensure we are able to continue to produce the kind of quality journalism that is our hallmark.

I wish I could offer some clearer sense of scale. An effort by the Guild to predict the outcome a few weeks back, based on what they knew from the people who had asked to get a buyout package, concluded it was too soon to tell if there would be enough volunteers, across the staff. Their own estimate, at that time, fell short of the mark, and the basic calculus has not changed.

Because the voluntary buyout window is still open for a few more days, and because we know many of you might still be contemplating what to do, we urge you to give the offer serious consideration, if you believe there is some financial advantage in it for you and your family. Each buyout we record before next Tuesday reduces the number of layoffs we will have to seek.

If any of you have any questions, or seek further information in the coming days, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.

Bill Schmidt