San Jose Paper Announces 17% Cut in Newsroom

By: The San Jose Mercury News plans to cut its newsroom staff by about 17 percent next month as readers and advertising dollars migrate to the Internet, the paper's new executive editor said Tuesday.

The newspaper plans to eliminate about 40 of the editorial department's 240 full-time positions beginning July 2, Carole Leigh Hutton, the paper's executive editor and vice president, told the Mercury news staff during an afternoon meeting.

Management has not yet decided who will be laid off, and the number of people to lose their jobs will likely be less than 40 slightly lower because a few already planned on leaving before the cuts were announced, Hutton said. No buyouts are being offered.

The cuts, which were expected, will be completed by July 16. Under the paper's agreement with the San Jose Newspaper Guild, management has to consider four factors in determining who gets laid off, according to Hutton -- qualifications, competency, the ability to do available work, and seniority.

"It's a business decision. It's a difficult thing to do," Hutton said in an interview with The Associated Press. "We value the work of these people. We're not laying off poor performers. We're laying off journalists that are a key part of our organization."

The new round of cutbacks will be the third for the Mercury News newsroom cut in less than two years. The paper cut 52 people from its newsroom staff through buyouts in November 2005, and laid off 15 people in December 2006, according to the Newspaper Guild.

Last month, the MediaNews Group Inc.-owned paper also lost executive editor Susan Goldberg, who left to become editor of The Plain Dealer, Ohio's largest newspaper.

Sylvia Ulloa, the guild president and a designer in the Mercury News' features department, said the latest cuts will be "bigger than an economic loss" for San Jose and the surrounding communities because fewer journalists would be covering local news.

"This is a loss that the community is going to feel," she said. "We're not going to have the newspaper we have today."

Meanwhile, the San Francisco Chronicle is also bracing for a round of deep newsroom job cuts. The Hearst Corp.-owned newspaper said last month it plans to reduce its 400-person newsroom staff by about one-fourth unless jobs could be eliminated through buyouts and retirement incentives.

Two weeks later, Managing Editor Robert Rosenthal announced he was stepping down.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here