NYT Editor: ‘We Can Exhale Now’

Keller: No more layoffs planned

Last Updated: December 18, 2009 @ 10:15 AM

An update to Thursday’s update on the cutbacks at the New York Times. Executive editor Bill Keller sent a memo to staffers to say that the "unpleasant task" — in which 100 newsroom employees lost their jobs — "is now behind us." And some more good news for those who survived: the 5 percent across-the-board pay cut will be restored in January.

He did say, however, that "there will be some reorganizing" early next year, which will result in "consolidation" and assignment shifts, but not cuts.

Here’s the full memo, via the New York Observer:

Subject: We can exhale now.

To the staff:

Two months ago I told you that we were obliged to cut 100 jobs from the newsroom staff before the end of the year. That unwelcome and unpleasant task is now behind us, mostly thanks to voluntary buyouts, but some of it through layoffs, and all of it attended by a sense of loss.

Listening in on farewell toasts the past two weeks — Ralph Blumenthal’s uproarious monologue, Tina Kelley’s lovely poetry reading, the Washington Bureau’s warm sendoff for its departing veterans, and, of course, Ken Meyn’s parting quip that he and his sister, who works with emotionally disturbed children, had such similar jobs — I was reminded again and again of the bonds of pride and purpose and shared experience and good humor that make this such a wonderful place to work, and such a hard place to leave, even for those who are excited about their next acts. There will be more goodbyes, more retreats to bars, and a busy holiday season to get through with 100 fewer people pitching in. But I hope we can now direct our full attention back to the urgent business of putting out the world’s greatest news report.

However hard this passage has been, remember that we remain rich in talent, with a staff that still sets the standard for excellence in our business. I believe that, working together, we will be able to move forward without diminishing our ambitions or blunting our competitive edge.

At the beginning of the new year there will be some reorganizing to assure that critical jobs are not left undone as a result of the buyouts and layoffs. We expect some shifts and consolidations — of copy desks, for instance — to improve efficiency. A few of you may be asked to take on new assignments as we fortify our competitive position.

Also in January, the 5 percent we all sacrificed to the common good will be restored to our paychecks. And our work force will no longer be depleted by furloughs, which should compensate a little for the reduction in staff.

Of course, we have no guarantees of what the future holds. But, anxiety-fed gossip nothwithstanding, there is no further newsroom staff cut planned or foreseen, no "next round" on the agenda. It is my fervent hope that we will never endure another month like this one. Indeed, while the business climate remains cloudy, there are some hopeful signs — in the heft of the paper, in the display ads on the website — that we are over the worst of the economic upheaval. The company is hard at work on some promising ways to boost revenues and get back on a path to growth. More to come.

I want to thank each of you for your patience, your forbearance and your support during this extremely difficult period. My very best wishes to you for the holiday season and the new year.

Bill

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