‘San Antonio Express-News’ Cuts Staff

By: Joe Strupp

Two years after spending $4.5 million for raises and the hiring of new staff in its newsroom, the San Antonio Express-News is losing about 40 noneditorial employees through buyouts and layoffs, according to Publisher Larry Walker.

Walker said the cutbacks at the Hearst Corp.-owned newspaper are in response to revenue declines that have hit nearly every newspaper in the country. “Nobody’s immune to it,” he told E&P.

On Sept. 7, each of the paper’s approximately 1,000 employees was offered the buyout, which provides two weeks’ salary for every year of employment, up to 40 weeks of pay. The deadline for taking the offer was originally Sept. 14, but was extended to Sept. 21 following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

Walker said at least 30 employees had taken the offer, while several others continued to mull the option. Although the deadline has passed, any employee who showed interest in the buyout has 45 days to decide.

The paper also cut another nine positions through layoffs, Walker said. Those included workers in sales, human resources, and finance. All received the same compensation package offered to those taking buyouts.

No editorial employees took the buyout or was laid off, Editor Robert Rivard said. He added that a few newsroom employees considered the buyout, but he talked them out of it. “I sat them down and told them that if they left, we would probably not be able to replace them,” he told E&P. “I think they realized how much we needed them.”

The San Antonio cuts came shortly after the Hearst-owned Houston Chronicle announced it would cut 127 positions, or about 5% of its work force, with 60% of the reductions occurring via buyouts.

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