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Strib: 25 newsroom buyouts … or layoffs

Now we know: Strib management wants its newsroom 25 bodies lighter. That’s about about an 8 percent reduction from the roughly 300-person staff.

Editor Nancy Barnes issued a memo this afternoon offering buyouts in to-be-specified areas. But if too few volunteers decide to shuck their jobs in the worst economy in decades, “there are likely to be some layoffs in January,” she writes.

Strib publisher Chris Harte is also demanding $1.9 million in salary concessions from the $22 million newsroom budget, which might convince a few folks that now is the time to jump.

A new contract this summer makes it somewhat easier for management to target layoffs to specific job types, but they have to offer buyouts first.

Here’s the memo:

As you all know, the Star Tribune is under severe pressure to align its costs with its revenue in what is clearly the most challenging economic environment any of us has ever faced. Those efforts are already under way in every corner of the company.

As part of this effort, we will be offering about 25 buyouts in the newsroom to some Guild members in certain scales and skill sets, and to some managers. The buyout program will be offered in accordance with the Guild contract.

The details of this program are still being resolved, but I wanted to let you all know the full picture of what we are facing in the newsroom as soon as I could. My hope is that we’ll have the details of the program available well before Christmas so that staff members can have enough time to decide if they want to apply for the buyout.

Unfortunately, if we do not get the buyouts we seek, there are likely to be some layoffs in January. I will let you all know more details as soon as I can. I know these are stressful and difficult times, and my door is open to anyone who wants to talk.


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