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Reaction to Globe Buyouts

The Boston Globe has announced a new round of buyouts.

For the third time in as many years, the newspaper is trimming its staff, citing problems with sagging circulation and advertising revenues.

WBUR's Monica Brady-Myerov reports.

TEXT OF STORY:

MONICA BRADY-MYEROV: The newsroom at the Boston Globe is shrinking, again. Management told employees yesterday that as part of a company-wide effort to reduce costs and find efficiencies, about 60 people would be offered a buy out package. Anyone with five years of experience or more would get the offer. They would be paid severance based on their years of work. More than a dozen reporters and editors in the newsroom are reportedly being offered the buyout.

A staff memo from publisher Steve Ainsley, says this buy out is less generous than similar offers in the recent past and future offers might not be so good. The message is clear, says Dan Kennedy Assistant Professor of journalism at Northeastern University.

DAN KENNEDY: One of the things that really struck me about Steve Ainsley email he makes no pretense about predicting where the bottom is going to come in the slump the industry is going thru right now.

MONICA BRADY-MYEROV: The Boston Globe and the New York Times, which owns the Globe refused to be interviewed. So did many current reporters at the Globe. One, who didn't want to be named, said the staff cuts are not a surprise and many are relieved there apparently won't be any layoffs.

The pare down is part of an industry-wide shrinkage. Two weeks ago, The New York Times said it will cut a hundred jobs from its newsroom this year. The Washington Post is planning to offer buyouts next month. Around this time last year the Globe closed all of its foreign bureaus. Four years ago, the Globe newsroom employed about 500 reporters and editors, now it's down to 383. How that's reflected in the newspaper, says Kennedy is obvious.

DAN KENNEDY: I grew up around here and the warp on the Globe was they seemed to know they knew more what was going on in Tehran than they did Boston. Those days are long since over. What we're see now is the globe just like every other paper is focusing more and more on local news because their most engaged news consumers are hitting the web and going to the New York Times, Washington Post, the BBC or whatever for their national and international news.

MONICA BRADY-MYEROV: In the cuts announced yesterday the Globe said it would not touch Boston.com for quote "strategic reasons". The popular news website bring readers to Globe stories, but the on line ad revenue doesn't match what the newspaper can charge. Lou Ureneck is Chair of the Journalism Department at Boston University and a former newspaper editor.

LOU URENECK: Newspaper companies have to cross a wobbly bridge from past to future — and they are in the middle right now and it's an uncertain future. The hope is that online operations will eventually produce the revenue but so far it's a hope not a reality.

MONICA BRADY-MYEROV: Management says it plans to invest in Boston.com. The New York Times Company is also offering buyouts to 20 people at the Worcester Telegram and Gazette.

For WBUR, I'm Monica Brady-Myerov.

This program aired on February 29, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.

Monica Brady-Myerov Twitter Reporter
Monica Brady-Myerov was formerly a report in WBUR's newsroom.

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