Bad news for US newspapers: a wave of layoffs has hit many newsrooms in the beginning of 2008.
The Boston Globe, owned by The New York Times Co., announced it plans to cut 60 jobs by offering voluntary employee buyouts - these won't affect the website, Boston.com. The Worcester Telegram & Gazette will cut 20 jobs.
Tribune Co.-owned Newsday publisher Tim Knight announced that the newspaper will cut about 120 jobs across the company, representing about 5% of the workforce. 25 of the layoffs will be in the newsroom. The pressroom will cut 24 union positions.
Other Tribune Co. newspapers including the Los Angeles Times (where 100 to 150 jobs are to be eliminated, 40-50 of them in the newsroom), The Baltimore Sun and the Chicago Tribune Media Group announced about 300 layoffs two weeks ago. The Los Angeles Daily News laid off 22 editors and reporters on Feb. 29.
At the San Jose Mercury News, reporters have been told to stay at home until the morning of March 7, when they will or will not receive a phone call telling them they've lost their job. The Mercury News' staff has shrunk to about 200 from twice that number in 1999.
The problem is that newspapers have yet to find a way to compensate print declines with online revenues. Part of the solution is citizen journalists, unpaid volunteers with some expertise in a field who can complement coverage. But most content produced by citizen journalists is commentary rather than news coverage.
According to Graphic Designr, there were more than 2,000 layoffs and buyouts in the newspaper industry in the last half of 2,007. In the first two months of February, the count is over 1,000.