This memo went out to the relatively small newsroom staff at the International Herald Tribune in Paris, from executive editor Alison Smale and NYT exec Marty Gottlieb, asking the staff there to voluntarily donate their unused vacation days and/ or 5% of their salaries, to help the paper survive financially and avoid layoffs. Wow.
To the Staff:
When we wrote to you last week, we encouraged you to come forward by Friday to make voluntary contributions of CET days or temporary pay reductions at this difficult economic time for the IHT. Since then we have met with you twice in groups and in many individual sessions. We appreciate the response from the many people who have come forward with contributions, either involving a salary reduction or the donation of CET days, which now tally more than 60. That is already a worthwhile contribution, given that we are told that one day of CET from each person on the newsroom payroll would be worth a total of some 23,500 euros. All this serves — on top of the previously instituted reduction of CET days — as an expression of the Paris newsroom's willingness to stand by the IHT and help it financially. It also more evenly balances the salary cutbacks experienced in different offices of the IHT and The Times, which were shaped by varying laws, contracts and procedures across three continents. These voluntary contributions by the Paris staff exemplify what Bill Keller referred to in a newsroom talk at The Times Wednesday as the "spirit of shared sacrifice" reflected in the Newspaper Guild's overwhelming approval of temporary pay cuts of 5 percent covering hundreds of its members.
We appreciate as well your thoughtful questions and comments as you wrestle with the decision of what, if anything, to contribute. We want to emphasize that this decision is a personal one, shaped by individual circumstances and determinations, and that there is no single right answer. One factor that many of you have asked about is the nature of the eight layoffs proposed in Paris. Without knowing which departments they come from and how they might affect the newsroom, several of you have said, it is hard to know how to come to your best judgment. We are in the formal process of consultation with the comite d'enterprise, and for now that is all that can be said. In the meantime, we will extend the period for making voluntary contributions so that you can weigh everything and make your most reasoned decisions. Meanwhile, we welcome a continuing dialogue. Please contact either of us or Tom Redburn with any questions or simply to talk things through. And thanks, again, for considering this request after a year in which you have risen to the occasion — journalistically and in many other ways — time and again.
Marty and Alison