It took Bill Keller about five minutes at his “Throw Stuff at Bill” meeting at the Times Center to announce the bad news. He told the group gathered that there would be about 100 newsroom cuts through a combination of attrition and buyouts; he also cautioned there was a “real clear” possibility of layoffs, according to two people present.
“He made the point that we don’t want to bleed forever and we want to get this over with,” said one person present. ” The low-hanging fruit has been cut and there will be more painful decisions; it’s definitely not like cutting the recording room.”
Keller said he didn’t imagine any sections (like Travel or Escapes or City) getting eliminated, and that the newsroom cuts would therefore come on a person-by-person basis.
According to our sources, Keller also left the open the possibility of saving some jobs. He said that “the leadership of the newsroom will share in the sacrifice.” Richard Perez-Pena, the publishing reporter, asked what he meant. “Apparently there is a pool of money made up of bonuses for the salaries for top editors that may be used to save top jobs,” said one person present. “He said he hadn’t decided if they would use that.”
Interestingly, at the meeting, Perez-Pena was the only person to ask a question about the cuts. “He asked for questions and no one lined up,” said a newsroom staffer. “It was like a bunch of scared cats. It’s like no one wanted to confront what he said.”
Instead, there were questions about why the fourth floor was so cold and why stairwells in the building were still inaccessible.
Keller will hold two more meetings today, one at 2:30 p.m. and the other at 5:30 p.m. We’ll have updates as they come in.
UPDATE: Jeff Bercovici has more from Keller’s afternoon meeting. He reports that Keller said that most of the job cuts will come from journalists rather than art and photo editors or receptionists. Gawker also reports that Keller took a mighty swipe at The Wall Street Journal, calling the paper, “The New York Times Lite.” “We would be fools to underreact or to overreact,” Gawker reports Keller as saying. “We cannot win by being defensive, we cannot curl up and act that way.”