NYT Co. Centralizing Classifieds — Job Cuts Likely

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By: Joe Strupp

The New York Times Company is centralizing much of the classified advertising collection efforts of its 15 regional newspapers to a single location, a spokeswoman said today. The move is likely to result in job cuts at a number of the newspapers.

“These are operating efficiency measures that the publishers talked to their papers about yesterday,” said Abbe Serphos, director of public relations for The New York Times Company. “We anticipate that these will significantly increase efficiency, improve customer service and help to standardize common business processes across the regional media group.”

Serphos said the centralization, expected to be completed by April 1, will direct most classified ad billing and collection efforts to a central office in Lakeland, Fla., where the chain’s Lakeland Ledger is located. The change will affect all of the company’s daily papers, except The New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Boston Globe, and Worcester (Mass.) Telegram & Gazette.

The Sarasota (Fla.) Herald-Tribune, the largest of the regional papers, announced the change today in its editions and online, reporting that it will result in laying off “fewer than a dozen employees during the next few months.” It also will expand that paper’s classified phone service to take calls 24 hours a day, the paper reported Tuesday.

“The goal is to keep profits on target as print advertising revenues subside from their real-estate-induced peaks during 2006, and also to spend more going after multimedia markets,” the Herald-Tribune reported.

“Our industry is in the throes of change,” Herald-Tribune publisher Diane McFarlin said in today’s paper. “At the same time we are dealing with local economic conditions that have affected sales locally. I think the key to success is to deal with this in a way that will maintain our print strength while building our capability in new media.”

Serphos did not have specific information on which job cuts may occur at the other Times Company regional papers due to the centralization. In a related consolidation effort, however, she noted that the Hendersonville (N.C.) Times-News planned to shutdown its printing plant and have its editions printed at the Spartanburg (S.C.) Herald-Journal, another New York Times Company paper. That change will result in the lay off of 35 full- and part-time employees.

Serphos said such consolidation and cost-cutting measures have been ongoing for 18 months and more are likely in the future. “We are just going through the process,” she said.

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