Newark ‘Star-Ledger’ Offers New Round of Buyouts

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By: E&P Staff

New Jersey’s largest daily is again looking for a few good men — and women — to re-evaluate their future at the newspaper.

The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., is offering voluntary buyouts to non-represented, full-time employees who joined the paper prior to Jan. 1, 2006. While the Star-Ledger is not revealing how many buyouts are being sought, Publisher Richard Vezza wrote in a letter to employees that based on its performance over the first seven months of the year, the newspaper is projected to lose $10 million in 2010. This follows the Star-Ledger’s 2009 losses of about $9 million.

“Obviously, losses of this magnitude are unsustainable,” the memo read. The number of buyouts in this round, he wrote, “will depend on who applies and from what departments. After reviewing all the applications, we will make a decision on which buyouts make business sense for us.

“I believe the unions representing many of our employees will see that at this moment it is in our mutual interest to talk and find ways to provide the Newspaper with the savings it needs,” Vezza wrote. “They, like us, have a strong interest in restoring the health of The Star-Ledger.”

In 2008, parent company Advance Publications said it would close or sell the Star-Ledger if it didn’t get at least 200 buyouts from the paper’s then-756 non-union full-time workers. The newspaper received 304 buyouts — among them 151 from the newsroom — and also won concessions from some of its unions.

After that buyout, remaining employees last year saw an across-the-board salary reduction, the institution of worker furloughs and employee contributions to the healthcare plans, and the freezing of the company-funded pension plan.

“Our past efforts to create efficiencies and cut costs have helped in moving us toward continued viability, but the uniquely challenging and competitive situation in our geographical area combined with the continuing decline in advertising revenues have prompted us to implement these additional initiatives,” Vezza wrote.
Since the last round of buyouts, advertising revenues have declined at least another 25%, Vezza told employees.

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