New York Times to cut 100 newsroom jobs

The New York Times has announced plans to cut 100 jobs in its newsroom, about 8 per cent of the total, in a fresh sign that the paper is still reeling from the drop in advertising revenue.

In an email to the news staff, the title’s executive editor, Bill Keller, said the publisher would on Thursday offer voluntary redundancy packages to union and non-union employees.

But in a warning familiar to the newsroom, he said that poor take-up off the packages would trigger compulsory redundancies, which he said management was hoping to avoid.

“As before, if we do not reach 100 positions through buyouts, we will be forced to go to layoffs,” Keller wrote. “I won’t pretend that these staff cuts will not add to the burdens of journalists”.

The Times’ newsroom, which employs 1,250 staff – making it the biggest in the US, tried to stave off the threat of job cuts in April by cutting its budget for freelance and external writers.

At the behest of management, it also trimmed other expenses, and recently made its staff swallow a 5 per cent pay cut – in addition to the 15 per cent reduction in its budget for freelancers.

However the financial deterioration, and its adverse impact on advertisers’ confidence, has proved worse than expected for the Times and its counterparts, both in the US and overseas.

Admitting as much, an NYT reporter penning the paper’s news story on its 100 job cuts put them down to an advertising drop-off that has “pummelled” the newspaper industry.

Fresh research from advertising bean counters at Zenith Optimedia appears to confirm that the collapse in advertising revenue has, in fact, been more prolonged than first thought.

Obtained by the Financial Times, the firm's research shows that worldwide spending on advertising is due to increase by just 0.5 per cent in 2010, down from the 1.6 per cent it predicted in July.

Zenith’s updated forecast adds that global advertising spending will plummet 9.9 per cent this year, worse than the 8.5 per cent contraction it expected three months ago, before returning to growth in 2011.

The developed markets of western Europe, North America and Japan face will see ad spend fall by 2.9 per cent in 2010, the media agency said, whereas more nascent ad markets such as India, Chine and eastern Europe will report healthier growth of almost 8 per cent for the same period.

In the nearer term, the agency said: “We are still confident that the second half of [2009] will be much less painful for the ad market than the first half, and expect the market to hit bottom before the end of 2009.”

 

Editorial image Dom Dada

 

21st October 2009

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