6/30/08

News Union has no answers to dues cuts

Woes include red ink, paper-stream waste, leftism

The bloodletting at newspapers across the country continued this week as another round of job cuts was announced at publications including The Hartford Courant and The Baltimore Sun. Staff at the Courant and the Sun were alerted of the newsroom cuts, which will come through buyouts, layoffs and the closing of open positions, in e-mails from management Wednesday.

"Perhaps these are the numbers you were expecting. Perhaps they are a shock," Courant Editor-in-Chief Cliff Teutsch wrote. "I have had a little time to wrap my head around them; many of you need to do that, too. They will be life-changing for some, and they add a sober reality for all as we continue to remake the paper for a September launch."

The Courant, the state's largest newspaper and owned by Chicago-based Tribune Publishing Co., will cut 60 newsroom positions. The paper's news pages will be reduced by 25 percent.

The cuts will be implemented by July 31. In September, the Courant expects to roll out sweeping design changes that could see some sections combined.

The Advocate and Greenwich Time had been owned by Tribune until the papers were sold last year to Hearst Corp. of New York for $62.4 million. The papers are being managed by MediaNews Group Inc. of Denver.

The Sun announced it would cut about 100 jobs, including 55 to 60 in the newsroom.

"These actions are necessary for us to remain competitive and win in the future, and will enable us to create new targeted print and interactive media for the marketplace that satisfy both consumers and advertisers," Publisher Tim Ryan wrote to staff.

Last year, 41 Sun employees accepted buyouts, and three advertising designers were laid off. The year before, the Sun announced the closing of its last two foreign bureaus.

Staff positions represented by the Baltimore-Washington Newspaper Guild have shrunk by at least 34 percent through buyouts, layoffs and departures since 2003, the union said.

Buyouts will be offered today to all employees, who have two weeks to accept, Ryan wrote. If not enough employees accept buyouts, layoffs will be announced July 18, and the reductions will take effect in early August.

Industry observers said they are not surprised by the latest round of cuts.

"It's the norm," said Richard Hanley, director of Quinnipiac University's communications graduate program. "The bottom is not in sight, and I expect more to follow."

Earlier this month, Tribune CEO Sam Zell announced the company would trim pages and editorial content from all eight of its daily newspapers, which have been losing circulation and advertising revenue.

- The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Cuts are expected at some Cox Enterprises papers. About 300 positions, including 130 in the newsroom likely will be eliminated according to published reports.

The Boston Globe, which is owned by the New York Times Co., has asked its employees to take a 10 percent cut in pay.

(stamfordadvocate.com)

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