Virginian-Pilot enters cost-saving mode

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The Virginian-Pilot, a Norfolk, VA-based newspaper with a weekday circulation of around 175,000, will cut 10% of its work force and some of its publishing operations by the end of the year.

At least 125 jobs will be lost through layoffs and the closing of satellite publications. The paper also will trim its publishing by about 40 pages per week, or 8% of its total pages, largely through eliminating its business section for every day but Sunday. Two open positions and 15 employees — mostly managers and editors — will be eliminated from the newsroom, for a total of 55 jobs lost from the newsroom since January 2007.

"We're making these changes to keep this a healthy contributor to the marketplace in tough times," Maurice Jones, publisher of the Virginian-Pilot, said in a statement.

“The paper will be a little smaller,” added editor Denis Finley. “I think readers will notice. We will keep the quality of the journalism as high as possible. There will just be less of it in the daily Pilot.”

Link, a free daily aimed at 18- to 34-year-olds, is one of the spinoffs being shuttered at year's end; but the two-year-old publication may retain its Web site. Three military base newspapers, located in Alabama, Georgia and Texas, also will close by the end of the year, and they may be joined by Port Folio Weekly, an alternative paper, and Mix, a multicultural monthly.

Landmark Media Enterprises, the Virginian-Pilot's parent company, has been trying to sell off the property and will continue negotiating with a buyer that is trying to get financing.

In the meantime, the paper is exploring new ways to generate revenue, such as printing front-page advertisements — which it started in October — and raising newsstand prices. Average circulation for the paper has dipped 3.4% on weekdays and 4.3% on Sundays since September 2007.


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