New York Times Fires 500 Staffers
The New York Times has announced that it is firing 500 of its employees, including a large number of its newsroom staff, over the next few months.
The New York Times Co. and two Philadelphia newspapers announced major job cuts Tuesday as the industry grapples with severe financial problems including weak advertising and circulation declines. The Times said it would cut about 500 jobs, while the Philadelphia papers will eliminate a total of 100 jobs. The cuts at the Times represent about 4 percent of the company’s work force and will be made across the company, including about 45 jobs in the Times newsroom and 35 at The Boston Globe.
The Times also said its third-quarter earnings would come in well below Wall Street forecasts because of sluggish advertising trends and higher-than-expected costs from a previous round of job cuts in May, which resulted in 200 jobs being eliminated. McClatchy Co., a California-based newspaper publisher, also trimmed its earnings forecast Tuesday because of weaker-than-expected advertising.
The Philadelphia Inquirer will cut its editorial staff 15 percent, from 500 to 425 people, while the Philadelphia Daily News will cut its editorial staff 19 percent, from 130 to 105. Both papers are owned by Knight Ridder Inc., the nation’s second-largest newspaper company.
The cuts come as the newspaper industry faces serious problems including slow advertising growth, long-term declines in circulation and a widespread shift by readers — especially younger ones — to online news sources.
The Times said it expected 250 jobs at its main newspaper group to be affected, which includes the Times, the International Herald Tribune and the online operation of the Times. Of those job cuts, about 45 will come from the Times’ newsroom, the company said in a statement. Another 160 jobs will be cut from the Times’ New England operation, which includes The Boston Globe and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette and Boston.com. The company did not provide a breakdown of those job cuts other than to say that 35 newsroom jobs would be cut at The Boston Globe.
NEW YORK The New York Times Co. announced a staggering staff reduction plan Tuesday that will likely mean some 500 job loses at the company’s many properties, including an expected 45 newsroom positions at The New York Times newspaper and 35 at The Boston Globe.
In a memo to staffers, company chairman Arthur O. Sulzberger, Jr. and CEO Janet Robinson wrote: “We regret that we will see many of our colleagues leave the Company; it is a painful process for all of us. We have been tested many times in our 154-year history as we are being tested now.” They promised this would not impact the quality of the paper’s journalism.
In a press release distributed Tuesday afternoon, the company said it “plans to begin the staff reductions in October and implement them over the course of the next six to nine months.”
Veteran journalist Mark Tapscott observes,
These job losses in the mainstream daily newspaper industry are beginning to remind of the late 1960s and the 1970s as the old big-plant U.S. steel industry in the Northeast endured the loss of thousands of jobs to foreign competition and the emergence of smaller, more efficient plants in other regions of the country.
The similarities are definitely there. The obvious “more efficient competitor,” of course, is the blogosphere. Still, as Stephen Green points out,
Reporting is expensive. Not everyone has the time to go out and find stories. Not everyone can afford a research staff. Not everyone has the skill to develop and maintain useful contacts.
Look. I usually suspect any New York Times story to be biased – but I can expect it to be researched and fact-checked. And in this day and age, I can rely on some smart blogger somewhere to tell me exactly what the NYT got wrong. But what I can’t expect blogs to do – at least not yet – is to do the dreary, day-in-day-out work of getting the news in the first place. For all its faults, the MSM is still far better than blogs at reporting.
Even John Hinderacker admits that “we web-based commenators need newspapers to produce the raw material for our commentary.”
Bloggers can do a lot of genuine reporting, as the recent first-hand accounts from Katrina demonstrated. Michael Yon is doing a bang-up job of reporting from Iraq, as Scott Koenig did before him. But such stories are, for now, the exceptions. Furthermore, one would have to read a lot of blogs to get the breadth of coverage one gets from the NYT or WaPo.
Laurence Simon is right: It’s unlikely there’s so much fat at the Times Company that cutting 500 jobs won’t impact the quality of the reporting. Certainly, the Big 3 network newscasts suffered from the decision a decade or more ago to cut back on their staff, especially overseas.
With all its faults, the New York Times provides superb coverage of the events transpiring around the world. And if even they can’t sustain quality coverage, it’s unlikely that the gap will be filled by any other single source.