The Seattle Times is offering buyouts to its newsroom employees in an effort to cut its budget. But officials say the situation is less drastic than at other papers around the country.
Seattle Times editor Kathy Best said she hopes people keep the proposed buyouts at the Seattle Times in perspective.
Best: “To paraphrase Mark Twain, the demise of the Seattle Times is a huge exaggeration. Thanks to the explosion of digital readers, we have never at the Seattle Times reached more people with our journalism than we do today.”
Best said the buyouts are part of an effort to cut the newsroom budget by 6 percent.
Best: “Depending on how many people do that, that will tell us whether we need to take the next step, which is layoffs, or whether we get enough people leaving voluntarily.”
But these reductions will not be on the scale of layoffs this fall at the Oregonian, or at the Los Angeles Times, which lost 80 reporters and editors.
Media analyst Rick Edmonds of the Poynter Institute notes that newspapers are in their seventh consecutive year of declining ad revenues because advertisers are trying other things.
Edmonds: “They want to explore not just a digital ad, but a variety of digital marketing strategies. And they tend to take away from the budget they were devoting to newspapers and other legacy media.”
He said newspapers often use these buyouts to then hire younger, cheaper and more digital-savvy people. Best said she doesn’t know yet who is leaving or whether they’ll be replaced. But she says the paper is committed to succeeding in a digital world.
She asked employees to signal their interest in the buyout by the end of this year.