Philly Papers Planning to Hire ‘Dozens of Sales People’ While Slashing Editorial

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By: Joe Strupp

Just because Philadelphia Newspapers Inc., is planning to shed some 100 Newspaper Guild jobs through a buyout offer doesn’t mean the company isn’t hiring. Quite the opposite.

PNI, which owns and operates the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News, wants to boost ad revenues, according to Publisher and President Joseph Natoli. That means hiring more advertising staffers at the same time editorial workers are being cut.

“There are plans to add dozens of sales people,” Natoli told E&P Tuesday, just hours after the buyout offer went out to guild workers. “We have to grow our advertising revenue.”

Natoli stressed that the proposed job cuts that are likely to come from the buyout offer, which will be available until Nov. 4, are only part of the solution to the papers’ financial woes. He said the company needs to improve income as well.

“You have to grow your revenue faster than your expenses,” said Natoli, adding that the papers’ current profit margin is “in the low teens.” “We are not doing that right now.”

The buyout offer seeks to cut 25 members of the Daily News’ 130-person newsroom and 75 people from the Inquirer’s editorial staff of 500. If the buyouts do not meet the goals, layoffs would likely follow.

“We are committed to getting the savings, we will take it one step at a time,” Natoli said when ask about the possibility of layoffs. “We are looking to save money. It could be in overtime, in [cuts to] part-time, but it could include layoffs. Simply staying the course isn’t an attractive option. We have to react.”

Natoli was quick to point out that the long-range plan does not mean closing or merging the papers. He also believed both could be well run with fewer editorial staffers. “I think we can publish really good newspapers and we are investing in sales and marketing infrastructure to do that,” he said. “But we have to do something to keep costs and revenue in line.”

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