Baquet: 85 newsroom jobs, some layoffs

Times Editor Dean Baquet follows up the publisher's message with his own announcement. Staffers have until Nov. 25 to decide if they want to take the buyout terms:

Nov. 16, 2005
To the Editorial Staff
From Dean Baquet

I very much regret to announce that The Times will have to lose about 85 newsroom jobs before the end of the year. A few of the cuts have already been made through attrition. Some will come through a voluntary separation program. But others, unfortunately, will come through layoffs. The exact breakdown won't be known until we see how many people apply for the voluntary separation package.

You all know that this is a rough year for newspapers. The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal have also announced significant cuts in staff or expenses. Other Tribune newspapers are making similar reductions in response to rising newsprint costs and concerns over a continuing decline in revenue.

Still, this is our second straight year of staff reductions, and this is a painful announcement to make. It is one I've worked hard to avoid.

I'm aware that the newsroom has been anxiously waiting some announcement, and that this has created much distress. But it doesn't show in our paper. I can't tell you how grateful I am for the tremendous work every department has done throughout an uncertain time.

Just as I'm not forgetting what you have accomplished in the past few months, neither should you. The Katrina coverage matched the epic nature of the story. The foreign staff and the Washington bureau have continued their compelling coverage of the war and its domestic repercussions. Steve Lopez and the metro investigative unit have changed laws and institutions. The paper has produced hard-hitting exclusives on the problems at the Getty, and the liver transplant program at UC Irvine. Features continues to provide cutting edge coverage of culture and the arts.

We just published another great local investigative series, the conservators project. Other major projects are about to land, from almost every department of the paper. We've finished a major redesign of the magazine, and we're rebuilding the Orange County operation. In essence, we are making big bets on the future even as we are being forced to cut.

Due to financial pressures, we are on a very short timeframe, and people will only have until 5 p.m. Nov. 25 to apply for a separation package. After that, we will decide which positions must be eliminated through layoffs.

Information about the separation program will be available online later today. Susan Denley is organizing some meetings for editorial staff members to answer questions about the separation program over the next few days. She and Senior Manager Oracio Galindo of the Human Resources Department will try to help in any way they can. Susan will follow up later today with a note laying out more details.

Despite these cuts, nothing will keep us from chasing the biggest stories. And we simply can't lose sight of our ambitions to compete as one of the country's great newspapers. We have the second largest newsgathering staff in the country--and the best. Working with Jeff, we will handle these staff reductions as humanely as possible, and with an eye toward avoiding cuts that hamper our core mission of providing powerful stories and photography.

The Times is the most resilient newspaper in the country. It is one of the reasons we love it. We're in for a few difficult weeks, but we will get through this.

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