Times Announces Layoffs, Enforcement of Hiring Freeze

Bill Keller announced moments ago in a memo that there will be layoffs at The New York Times. He wrote that it will not affect reporters, but a hiring freeze will be strictly enforced.

He wrote:

While we are committed to retaining our competitive muscle, we will be facing some tough choices about where to save. That is why I must tell you that there are going to be layoffs in the newsroom, for the first time in recent memory. The people who are affected are not journalists, but that does not make this news anyeasier to share.

A dozen positions will be eliminated immediately, including "a number of clerical and secretarial jobs" and management positions in administrative areas.

For the newsroom: "But as many of you know, we put into place a hiring freeze several weeks ago, and except for those jobs that are critically important to our future ambitions, we intend to enforce it. As journalists resign or retire from the Company next year, we will be trying to fill their positions internally."

There is also a suggestion that The Times could cut space in their new office building. Mr. Keller wrote: "we will be rethinking coverage priorities and how we use our space and our people."

Here’s the full memo: 

To the staff:

Despite growing pressure on the newsroom budget, The Times has continued to turn out great journalism, whether it’s covering Iraq, New York City or the most crowded Presidential campaign in memory. We’ve been able to do this,
in part, because each of you has helped us save money by finding new and more efficient ways to do what we need to do. That has enabled us to avoid the kind of drastic staff cutbacks other news organizations have endured. Jill, John and I greatly appreciate everything you have done.

As we approach 2008, it is clear that the newsroom is going to have to do even more to tighten spending, and to help the publisher and the Times Company meet the difficult financial challenges facing our industry. While we are committed to retaining our competitive muscle, we will be facing some tough choices about where to save. That is why I must tell you that there are going to be layoffs in the newsroom, for the first time in recent memory. The people who are affected are not journalists, but that does not make this news any easier to share.

Today we notified the Newspaper Guild that about a dozen support positions within the newspaper are being eliminated. We will, for example, be closing the Recording Room as well as trimming a number of clerical and
secretarial jobs. The people in those jobs will receive the severance they are entitled under the Guild contract.

During 2008, we also expect to eliminate a few management jobs in administrative areas. This staff reduction does not include any journalists, nor any widespread buyouts, as has happened in the past. But as many of you know, we put into place a hiring freeze several weeks ago, and except for those jobs that are critically important to our future ambitions, we intend to enforce it. As journalists resign or retire from the Company next year, we will be trying to fill their positions internally.

As we move into 2008, we will be rethinking coverage priorities and how we use our space and our people, but always in ways that preserve what The Times does best. In the future, as in the past few months while these matters were under review, we have worked closely with our partners on the business side, with a single shared ambition: to seek cutbacks and reductions that are as strategically focused as possible, and do nothing to damage our core journalism.

Bill