AP Layoffs Appear to Be Under Way

By: Joe Strupp

News Media Guild leaders who represent newsroom staffers at the Associated Press are bracing for layoffs at the news cooperative today, with word spreading of cuts planned for later today — or already under way.

Gawker reported earlier today that one estimate had at least 80 jobs being cut, adding that its sources contend they have already started. Poynter.org’s Romenesko site later reported several e-mails confirming the news from AP staffers, including one that states: “AP managers fanning out nationwide, meeting with staff, announcing layoffs.”

Michael Calderone of Politico reported at late morning, “In the Washington bureau, there was one person let go in the research department, according to sources. That’s not too surprising given that the AP has a larger, centralized news research operation in New York.

Paul Colford, AP director of media relations, declined to comment to E&P on the layoff expectations. But he reiterated the news cooperative’s announcement from last year that it planned to reduce payroll count by 10% by the end of 2009.

“We are on track to meet that goal,” Colford said. “A hiring freeze began in 2008 and it continues.” In November 2008, Tom Curley, the AP’s president and CEO, announced plans for a 10% cut in 2009.

Tony Winton, president of the guild that represents 1,300 AP staffers, said members tell him meetings have been scheduled with numerous employee groups around the company for later today, but no official announcement has been made.

“The place is ablaze with rumors,” he told E&P. “This is not unexpected.” Kevin Keane, guild administrator, offered a similar view: “All I have heard from employees at AP is that they expect layoffs. They feel pretty strongly that something is happening.”

Last summer, about 100 jobs were cut through voluntary buyouts that ended in July. AP currently has about 4,000 employees worldwide.

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