By: Joe Strupp
In apparently keeping with Tribune Co. boss Sam Zell’s directive to seek both staff and page cuts if needed to save money, The Hartford (Conn.) Courant has announced plans to do both.
In a memo to staff, first posted on the Poynter.org Romenesko site, Editor Cliff Teutsch has revealed plans to cut news pages from 273 per week to 206, while cutting staff positions from 232 to about 175.
“Perhaps these are the numbers you were expecting. Perhaps they are a shock,” the memo says, in part. “I have had a little time to wrap my head around them; many of you will need to do that too. They will be life-changing for some, and they add a sober reality for all as we continue to remake the paper for a September launch.”
Teutsch also states that buyouts will be offered to all affected news staffers, except those on the Web staff.
“We will accept or reject applications based on the anticipated needs of the new paper,” the memo states. “We will not use seniority as a criterion as we have in the past. People seeking a buyout will have until July 9 to apply to Human Resources, as explained in packets being distributed today.”
He also wrote that, “in addition to buyouts, we expect that layoffs will be necessary to meet our reduction target, and they too will be based on the needs we foresee for our redesigned paper.”
Buyout offers will be based on one week of pay for every six months of service, capped at 52 weeks of pay, plus 3%. “Health benefits will be continued, and the company will pay for career planning services,” the memo states. “HR staff members are available to talk with you about your specific situation. The package is the same for buyout and layoff.”
On the page cuts, Teutsch stated: “In general, we plan to build a more compact paper for weekdays, when readers are pressed for time. We will present information in short form whenever feasible and go in-depth for the most important, relevant stories. On Sunday, when many people spend more time reading, the paper will stay about the same size it is today. Daily and Sunday, we will add new content and new approaches. There will also be takeaways, and we will be as smart as we can about making them. The paper will be completely redesigned. We will fully integrate print and online, and increase interactivity with readers.”