All newsrooms are skittish these days, but the atmosphere at the Daily News today sounds beyond morose. Staffers are gathering tomorrow night at the home of reporters Jason Kandel and Kerry Cavanaugh to swap info, but what they do have is bleak. The word being used most often is "catastrophic" change in what the paper can cover, based on rumors that cuts may gut nearly 20% of an already skinny newsroom. Resumes and alternative career plans are being dusted off. From recent posts at The Paper Trail, union steward (and reporter) Brent Hopkins' blog:
I wish I had more to add over last week's message, but details of the layoff plan are still very murky. I know this is a time of great anxiety for all of us, but you guys have done a great job in putting out the paper with this hanging over our heads. You are truly a credit to the profession.
I'm sure many of you saw the closed-door meeting on Friday between the editors. I don't know what was discussed within, so I won't speculate. But I do know this: the corporate folks are looking for serious, deep cuts. From the talk I'm hearing, this could greatly affect the way we cover the news in this town and further cut into an already strapped newsroom.
That was posted before today's news from Singleton's Northern California papers that nearly all employees are being offered buyouts to crash expenses fast. "We reached the unavoidable conclusion that we must reduce our operating costs, and we must do so quickly," says the memo up there. "And we cannot accomplish what we need to accomplish without reducing the size of our workforce." Layoffs will follow if the buyout number doesn't do the trick, and while the memo didn't give numbers, it warned: "I will say this: The number of jobs that will be eliminated will be significant."
Earlier today: First-ever layoffs at the Ventura Star.