New York Times To Slash 100 Newsroom Jobs

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MEDIA DECODER: The New York Times plans to eliminate 100 newsroom jobs — about 8 percent of the total — by year’s end, offering buyouts to union and non-union employees, and resorting to layoffs if it cannot get enough people to leave voluntarily, the paper announced on Monday. The program mirrors one carried out Newspaperchart_042808_1_1.jpgin the spring of 2008, when the paper erased 100 positions in its newsroom, though other jobs were created, so the net reduction was smaller. That round of cuts included some layoffs of journalists — about 15 to 20, though The Times would not disclose the actual figure — which was the first time in memory that had happened. The paper has made much deeper reductions in other, non-newsroom departments, where layoffs have occurred several times. But the advertising drop that has pummeled the industry has forced cuts in the news operation as well. The newsroom already has lowered its budgets for freelancers and trimmed other expenses, and employees took a 5 percent pay cut for most of this year. Nearly all papers in the metropolitan region have been cutting their news operations for years, and some have fewer than half as many people in their newsrooms as they did in 2000. MORE

DAVID CARR: Those of us who work in traditional media have spent a fair amount of time wondering what part of the implosion in advertising revenue is cyclical (ad buying is suffering because of the recession) and whatjournalist3.jpg part is secular (we’re making horse buggies). Leonard Downie Jr. knows the story all too well. As executive editor of The Washington Post for 17 years, he watched as the Web first seemed to enable and eventually came to threaten organizations that support large newsrooms. Mr. Downie and Michael Schudson, a professor at the Columbia University Journalism School, were commissioned by Nicholas B. Lemann, the dean of the journalism school, to write a report on the future of news and the newsroom. It was Mr. Downie who came up with the insight a few years back that the most important fight is not for newspapers, but for the newsrooms they support. The report’s title, “The Reconstruction of American Journalism,” telegraphs its sober intent, a realpolitik way of thinking that is reflected in the opening words of the report: “Fewer journalists are reporting less news in fewer pages, and the hegemony that near-monopoly metropolitan newspapers enjoyed during the last third of the 20th century, even as their primary audience eroded, is ending.” In other words, the current advertising model won’t continue to support so-called accountability journalism. MORE

TIME: New York Times media columnist David Carr has an intriguing piece today about a wonky but potentially influential Columbia Journalism School report on how to how to save newspapers—or, more specifically, the newsgathering that those papers do—as it becomes more apparent that their advertising-based journalist3.jpgbusiness model is threatened. A big component of the authors’ solution: Uncle Sam. People can and I’m sure will dispute the report’s premise, that we need to save traditional newsrooms in order to make sure that public-interest journalism gets done. Even assuming that remise for the sake of argument, though, I have a hard time reconciling government support and an independent press. But first, let me credit the good ideas. Among the recommendations are creating a greater role for nonprofits, philanthropists and universities in bankrolling news. I suspect that’s the direction at least some journalism will go. If the for-profit model isn’t working, that by definition creates opportunity, and advantage, for people producing news with motives other than profit. The report also suggests, however, that the government become directly involved in funding journalism, by setting up a fund for local news. Now all right, this isn’t the same as, say, the government paying the salary of the Washington Post’s White House correspondent. But it still presents the possibility of influence over journalism by an entity that shouldn’t have any. MORE

RELATED: Philadelphia Newspapers L.L.C. yesterday appealed a Bankruptcy Court ruling issued last week that gives its creditors the right to use the $300 million in debt they are owed when the company goes up for auction, now scheduled for Nov. 18. The ruling would make it easier for the firm’s senior lenders to gain control of the media firm in auction bidding. Use of the debt, called credit-bidding, means the lenders do not need cash to make their bid. Lawrence G. McMichael, who represents Philadelphia Newspapers, said the company had journalist3.jpgasked U.S. District Judge Eduardo C. Robreno to hear the appeal before the forthcoming auction of the company. Bids on the company are due Nov. 16, and the auction itself is set for two days later. MORE

NEW YORK TIMES: A bankruptcy judge’s ruling has dealt a serious setback to the bid by Brian P. Tierney and his allies to keep control of The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Daily News, increasing the odds that a group of private equity funds and banks will become the papers’ new owners. The papers are likely to be put up for auction to resolve the bankruptcy, and in such an auction, the law generally allows senior creditors to bid the amount they are owed, without putting up cash. In this case, that means the banks and equity funds could make a “credit bid” of about $300 million. That is far more than the $66 million in cash and real estate bid by a group of local investors assembled by Mr. Tierney, the paper’s chief executive. No other bidder has emerged so far.  MORE

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