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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Newsrooms Not Spared as The New York Times Co. Says 500 Jobs Must be Cut in Next Nine Months; Knight Ridder Philly Papers Hit Again, Too

As many as 500 jobs are to be eliminated in the next six to nine months, including many in its several newsrooms, The New York Times Co. said today. Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. said the reductions were needed "given the continued financial challenges and the cloudy economic outlook for the remainder of the year."

At least 45 newsroom jobs at The New York Times will be cut, as well as 35 at the Times-owned Boston Globe and an unspecified number at other Times properties, including The International Herald Tribune, the Times' online news operation, The Worcester Telegram & Gazette and Boston.com, as part of a four percent reduction in workforce. These reductions follow another round of cuts that involved up to 250 positions earlier this year.

Also announced today were about 100 positions to be eliminated by The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Philadelphia Daily News, both of which are owned by Knight Ridder, Inc. The two newspapers compete for stories, staff and other resources. Both papers have been fighting declining circulation, editorial staff and advertising for at least a decade.

Editor & Publisher talked to former Inquirer editors about the latest job cuts and heard strikingly different reactions. Zack Stalberg thinks the Inquirer will survive, but Gene Roberts thinks the new cuts are "suicidal."

Knight Ridder has been criticized by some media critics in recent years for insisting that its properties maintain excessively high profit margins, regardless of the impact on the editorial quality of the publications.

Times management promised in the statement announcing the new cuts that they expect to "manage the staff reductions in such a way that it continues to provide journalism of the highest quality, to function smoothly on a day-to-day basis and to achieve its long-term strategic goals."

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.

Meanwhile, Powerline's John Hinderaker has the solution for the Times and indeed the rest of the newspaper industry ... but little expectation that it will be applied.