News Cycle

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Star-Ledger in New Jersey to Trim News Staff by 40 Percent

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It’s always a sad day when a newspaper tosses away its talent. But this one is huge. The Star-Ledger in New Jersey, one of the top 20 newspapers in size in the nation, is trimming its news staff by 40 percent. I know how each and every journalist there feels, as I have been through two rounds of buyouts with two different news organizations. I also know journalists at the paper, and I wish them and their colleagues well.

Shira Ovide of The Wall Street Journal writes tonight:

The Star-Ledger newspaper in New Jersey said about 40% of its newsroom staff will depart in a buyout wave, among the steepest cuts in the continued downsizing of the newspaper industry.

The Star-Ledger earlier this month said it had secured enough buyout offers and labor concessions to ward off a threatened sale or closure of the paper, the country’s 15th-largest by weekday circulation. Executives signaled they wanted about 200 people to depart, but the number of buyout requests was reported to exceed that number.

Jim Willse, editor of the Star-Ledger, told staff Friday that 151 buyout offers were accepted in a newsroom of about 330 people. The paper turned down 17 people who had requested buyouts. Departures will be staggered between now and the end of the year, Mr. Willse said in an interview.

Buyout levels for other departments are slated to be announced in the coming week. The paper’s total staff has been about 1,400.

The newspaper industry has slashed thousands of jobs this year as advertising sales dwindle. Gannett Co., which publishes USA Today, said Friday it is looking at its second round of job cuts this year. Tribune Co., McClatchy Co., and New York Times Co. also have significantly cut back news staffs in the last year. On a percentage basis, the Star-Ledger’s cuts are among the stiffest at major newspapers.

At the Star-Ledger, morale has ebbed as staffers grappled with decisions whether to leave. The task now, Mr. Willse said, is to “figure out a way to make a good newspaper with a 40% smaller staff.”

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Written by newscycle

October 24, 2008 at 9:21 pm

Posted in Star-Ledger

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