The New York Times, like the rest of the newspaper industry, went through a painful series of buyouts after the 2008 financial collapse exacerbated the already ongoing collapse of the newspaper industry. In 2009, they cut 100 positions. In 2011, they had 20 more buyouts. This morning, they announced they want 30 more.
Jill Abramson's memo to the newsroom:
Date: December 3, 2012 9:05:03 AM EST
Subject: A Note From Jill
The economic environment has grown more difficult in the second half of the year and I must reduce costs in the newsroom. While Dean, John, Bill, Janet and I are looking at spending on everything from leases to bureau expenses, there is no getting around the hard news that the size of the newsroom staff must be reduced.
In the next few days, all excluded employees will receive a buyout package. If you are an excluded employee, please read through the packet carefully and consider whether accepting a voluntary severance package at this time in your life makes sense.
I hope the needed savings can be achieved through voluntary buyouts but if not, I will be forced to go to layoffs among the excluded staff. I expect that I will have to reduce the excluded staff by about 30 positions.
The Newspaper Guild has asked that we offer Guild employees the opportunity to apply for buyouts. We have agreed to do so. I will be sending all Guild employees a letter outlining the steps to take to be considered for a voluntary buyout.
You and I have been through this process together before and know that it is painful. Over the past several years, our colleagues on the business side have seen their numbers reduced by more than 60 percent. While we have had reductions too, including a round of buyouts and layoffs that claimed 100 jobs in 2008, the newsroom has been spared the worst of it. The strategic hires we have made targeted largely at bringing more depth and breadth to our digital bench have given us a newsroom today that is roughly the same size as the newsroom was in 2003.
We will continue to invest in our journalism, to retool and rethink the conventional newsroom structure so that we are able to expand our multimedia story telling across the globe.
I look forward to talking with you about these efforts and my strategy for the newsroom going forward at the next Grill Jill session on Dec. 20.
Because of the ambitions and standards of excellence all of you bring to our enterprise, I am certain we will weather our current challenges.
Please reach out to me, Dean, John, Bill or Janet if you have any questions.
And her note to the newsroom's union:
Date: December 3, 2012 9:10:50 AM EST
To: [Newsroom Guild]
Subject: A Note From Jill to Guild Employees
As I announced today in a message to the staff, the Newspaper Guild has asked that we offer Guild employees in the newsroom the opportunity to apply for buyouts. Among Guild employees, we are only looking for volunteers, for people who might see this offering as advantageous as this time.
If you are interested in a severance payout, and leaving The Times, we invite you to pick up a copy of the guild package from News Administration starting today, Dec. 3, until 5 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 10. You will then have up to 45 calendar days to decide whether to apply for the buyout. Picking up a package in no way obligates you to anything.
In general, the terms of the offer provide three weeks of severance pay per year worked for employees with 11 or more years of service, with a cap of two years pay. Employees with six or more years, but fewer than 11 years if service would receive 30 weeks of severance pay, and employees with fewer than six years of service would receive 15 weeks of severance pay. In addition to severance pay, employees with fewer than 11 years of service would receive four months of paid medical coverage, while employees with 11 or more years of service would receive eight months of paid medical coverage.
While we cannot guarantee we will be able to accept every applicant — some job functions are too critical to our enterprise at this time — we promise we will entertain as many applicants as possible. No guild members will be laid off as a result of this offer.
In the meantime, if you have questions, we urge you to reach out to [contacts].