New York Times executive editor Bill Keller has updated his staff on the cuts he's making to the newsroom budget. There had already been word that the City and Escapes sections — both largely produced by freelancers — were being scrapped. But today's memo makes it clear that the paper is looking to trim its freelance budgets everywhere, including ending the weekly fashion spread in the New York Times Magazine.
From: Bill Keller/NYT/NYTIMES
Date: Thu, Apr 16, 2009 at 11:30 AM
Subject: [NYT Newsroom] Budget Update
It's been three weeks since we talked about the cuts facing the newsroom budget. Since then there has been progress on several fronts. This is an update.
1. We have reached agreement with the business side on our proposals for consolidating, reconfiguring or eliminating some features.
— Pages 2, 3 and 4 of the A-Book. Tom Bodkin has redesigned the pages. Page 2 will contain a condensed index and the daily corrections. Pages 3 and 4 will take jumps from the front. The new format begins on Tuesday, April 21.
— The weekly fashion spreads will no longer appear in the main magazine; instead we will focus our fashion coverage in the T Magazines, and the Sunday and Thursday Styles sections. The last day the weekly magazine will run a fashion spread is May 3. The Sunday magazine plans to run T supplements several times a year.
— We will consolidate Sunday Metro area coverage in a new Sunday feature section, which will be a showcase for news and features from the city and beyond. (Metro area breaking news will be incorporated into the A-book.) The new section will include zoned pages for Connecticut, New Jersey, Westchester and Long Island. Joe Sexton and Jodi Rudoren have taken on the project of developing a prototype, and we hope to launch the new section on May 24, replacing the City section and regional weeklies. National Edition Metro coverage will be unchanged.
— Escapes will no longer be a free-standing section after the issue of April 24; two pages of its best content will be incorporated into the Friday Weekend section beginning May 1, much as Circuits appears inside Thursday's Bizday.
— We expect to roll out a trim of freelance budgets within the next few weeks.
Taken together, these moves will save millions of dollars — savings that would otherwise have to come out of payroll.
2. As you all know, the Guild has held meetings and is conducting a survey of its members regarding the 5 percent pay cut. Following the survey, the Guild leadership has said they plan to submit a specific proposal or proposals to a vote of the membership. For all non-union staff, the 5 percent pay cut took effect April 1.
3. The committees examining the future business model for The Times online presented a progress report to top management this week. We're still some time away from final decisions about ways to generate more revenue from our journalism online, but I can say that every promising idea has been given intensive study, and the newsroom participation has been appreciated. We've also received a number of cost-saving ideas not related to the online business model, and those are also getting serious attention.
4. Finally, I know the confrontation at the Boston Globe has raised anxiety levels here, too. How that will be resolved I have no idea. But I can say that the financial forecasts for The Times have not changed since our meeting last month. The hope and expectation remain that the pay cuts and the spending cuts outlined above will get us through the year without the need for other significant reductions. As I have said on past occasions, there is nothing sacrosanct about the current size of the newsroom, but if the day comes when we decide to undertake a cut in the staff it should be driven not by the temporary crisis of a recession, but by a careful calculation of our long-term priorities.
In the meantime, the world continues to deliver up a rich bounty of news, and we have been covering it with a level of journalism that demonstrates, every day, why we matter.