Globe to cut up to 50 jobs in newsroom
The Boston Globe, grappling with the economic downturn and financial pressures affecting the newspaper industry, yesterday said it plans to cut its newsroom payroll by as many as 50 full-time jobs, a reduction of nearly 12 percent in the company's news and editorial staff.
All of the company's 379 full-time news employees, including those at the Boston.com website, will be offered buyouts in coming weeks. If the company can't meet its target through voluntary departures, it said it would resort to layoffs of union and management employees. The company expects to complete the cuts in the next few months. In the past, newsroom buyout programs have attracted enough staff members to prevent the need for layoffs.
This will be the fifth newsroom staff reduction since 2001, as the Globe, like newspapers everywhere, struggles with the migration of advertisers and readers to the Internet, consolidation of the retail industry, and a recession forecast to be the deepest in decades. "The economic downturn hasn't helped," said Globe spokesman Bob Powers.
Powers said the reduction is one of several cost-cutting moves that included layoffs of 42 managers in the advertising, circulation, and marketing departments in November.
Other news companies have also been making cuts. Just in the past week, Gannett Co. said it will require most employees to take a week off without pay, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer was put up for sale, and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review offered buyouts to 672 employees.
"These are the darkest days for newspapers," said Louis Ureneck, chairman of Boston University's journalism department. "They have more readers than ever when you count online readers, but they have yet to figure out how to translate the interest in news on the Internet into revenue."
Dan Totten, president of the Boston Newspaper Guild, said unionized members have borne the brunt of past Globe cuts. "If more cuts are necessary, they should focus on management," he said.
The latest buyout program differs from previous ones in several ways. It's the first newsroom-only buyout in recent memory. It covers 350 newsroom and editorial employees and 29 news employees of Boston.com, who were exempt in the past. And, all news and editorial employees -- even those with fewer than five years at the company -- will be eligible to apply.
The news operation also has 54 full-time equivalent jobs held by part-timers, who aren't eligible for the buyout but could be included in layoffs. At its peak in 2000, the Globe newsroom had 552 full-time jobs. That didn't include Boston.com, which then was operated separately.
In a memo to staff, editor Martin Baron cited the staff's resilience in the past. "We are being tested again," he wrote, "and a resourceful newsroom like ours can meet the test." (By Robert Weisman, Globe staff)