California Paper Wants Buyouts from 22

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The Ventura County (Ca.) Star offered voluntary buyouts to nearly two dozen employees as it contends with an industrywide advertising slump.

“I’ve been in the business 29 years, and I’ve never seen a slump come on as quickly as this one in advertising dollars,” publisher Tim Gallagher said. “It kills your soul to see the collective experience and wisdom that might be going away.”

Twenty-two of the newspaper’s 404 employees were offered buyouts Wednesday that include a week’s pay for every six months an employee has worked for the newspaper, for up to a year’s worth of pay, and 18 months of company-paid health benefits.

Of those offered voluntary packages, 14 are in the editorial department, four in production, three in circulation and one in information systems. The employees are 55 or older, and have worked at least 10 years for E.W. Scripps Co., which owns the Star.

The deadline to express interest in the buyout is April 2, and Gallagher will decide which employees to select based on staffing needs and other factors.

Gallagher said the voluntary plan was preferred over layoffs.

The newspaper earlier imposed a hiring freeze

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