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USA Today to cut non-Web news staff

USA Today will cut 45 editorial staff positions through voluntary buyouts by the end of this year.
The newspaper maintained a steady readership this year, but lost ad dollars. Third quarter ad revenue slid 6.6% Q3 last year, with paid ad pages down to 803 from last year’s 929. Also, Q3 net income fell 11%, to $234 million.

In a memo sent to staff on Thursday night, USA Today editor Ken Paulson wrote, “It’s unfortunate that we have to take these steps, particularly when our newspaper circulation is growing.

nfortunately, revenue has not kept pace and we’re now facing the same cutbacks that so many other news organizations have already experienced.”

Circulation grew 1% for the first half of 2007 over the first half of 2006 to more than 2.2 million.
Staff with 15 years or more of experience at USA Today or less than five years of online experience have been asked to accept the buyouts by December 3. Layoffs among the 500-person staff may follow if not enough workers accept the buyout offer.

Decreasing ad dollars have spurred newspapers across the country to begin cutbacks, search for new means of revenue, or both. Hearst and Tribune Co. announced layoffs at some daily papers earlier this year, and USA Today parent Gannett offered buyouts to 110 employees as the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News in October.

Hearst is also one of the groups to have joined an online ad consortium with Yahoo, which puts local newspaper ads on a national platform. Gannett and Tribune Co. are part of a five-publisher group in talks to start its own online platform.

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