NYT Newsroom Layoffs Begin Tuesday

Executive editor Bill Keller on “excruciating process”; buyouts will “fall short” of 100 needed

The New York Times will begin the process of laying off an undetermined number of employees on Tuesday, as the paper aims to reduce its newsroom headcount by 100.

In a memo to staff on Friday, executive editor Bill Keller said that the paper – which had been looking to find volunteers for buyouts – is going to fall “far short” of the magic number of 100, meaning the Times will begin the process of laying off staffers after the window for accepting those voluntary buyout packages closes on Monday.

According to the New York Post, the Times wants to have the layoffs completed by the end of the year for write-down purposes. Those who are cut Tuesday will have to be out by Wednesday, the Post said.

Keller first informed employees of the impending cuts in October.

Here’s Keller’s full memo:

From: Bill Keller
Date: Fri, Dec 4, 2009
Subject: A note to the staff


As you all know only too well, we are in the process of reducing the newsroom staff by 100 jobs, a process that began with a round of voluntary buyouts. The window for those voluntary buyouts closes at the end of the day Monday, December 7.

We will not know until then exactly how many Guild and excluded employees have opted to take buyouts, but it is almost certain the number will fall short of the 100 we need. If that is indeed the case, as we expect, we will be forced resort to some number of layoffs. Under terms of the Guild contract, we will notify the union next week of Guild employees we intend to lay off, and the following week we will inform those employees, union and non-union, whose jobs are to be eliminated.

When this excruciating process is finished, we will meet with department heads to regroup and reorganize, to minimize the impact on departments that have been most heavily affected by the cuts.

Because the voluntary buyout window is still open for a few more days, we urge you to give the offer serious consideration if you believe there is some financial advantage in it for you and your family. Each buyout we record before next Tuesday reduces the number of layoffs we will have to seek.

If you have questions about how a buyout or layoff would affect you personally, please do not hesitate to reach out to your department head, or to Bill Schmidt.

I know the anxiety many of you feel, and share the sadness at the departure of good, dedicated journalists and friends. The fact that these hard choices have hit us in a season that should be festive only compounds the pain. But we will get through this time, and together we will continue to be the great engine of journalism our readers depend on.



New York Times to Cut 100 Newsroom Jobs