The state’s largest newsroom, facing falling ad revenue, will be reduced by almost two dozen positions, even as it plans to restructure how it publishes in print and online.
The Seattle Times, facing falling ad revenue, will be cutting jobs in its newsroom and other departments soon, even as it plans to restructure how it publishes in print and online.
Executive Editor Don Shelton indicated in an email to newsroom employees Friday that 23 people are expected to leave the newsroom.
Five nonunion staff members have taken buyouts. Shelton also said in his email that 14 newsroom union members were notified Friday that they would likely be laid off if not enough people, especially those in certain job classifications, volunteer for anticipated buyouts. Those classifications include reporters, desk editors, news page designers and others.
Union members will have until Jan. 20 to request buyouts. If necessary, layoffs for some union members would come after that date.
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Additionally, two people have already decided on their own to leave The Times, while two others accepted jobs at The Times outside the newsroom. The final number of job cuts could change, however.
“This is a very difficult period for people,” Shelton said Friday. “There are some really good people who are not going to be with us as we downsize.”
He said that, even after the cuts, the newsroom would still be “robust,” adding, “I’m confident we can do great journalism.”
The staff directory on the Seattle Times website shows about 170 current newsroom employees.
Earlier this week Shelton sent an email to the newsroom, outlining broad changes that will be coming.
There will be more emphasis on posting content earlier and more often, fewer layers of editing, and changes in what gets covered, he wrote.
“We’ll stop doing some things that don’t make sense, and pull back on posting some stories and covering some beats,” Shelton wrote. “We will identify the right coverage areas to focus on and then restructure accordingly.”
While The Seattle Times will continue to do investigative and watchdog stories, and longer profiles and features, the website also will “need to do shorter posts and aggregate interesting content from other sources” to respond better to what readers want, he wrote.
The Times will continue to publish seven days a week in print.
The cuts stem from falling advertising revenue, which worsened industrywide in the second half of 2016, and is anticipated to continue in 2017, Alan Fisco, the company’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, said in an email to employees last month.
While digital subscriber revenue at The Seattle Times continues to grow, “the increases aren’t sufficient to offset structural advertising losses,” he wrote.
The company declined to say how many positions would be cut companywide or what dollar amount in savings it’s hoping to achieve.
Seattle Times Publisher Frank Blethen, who represents the fourth generation of family ownership over the 120-year history of the newspaper, said he couldn’t offer more details at this time. He said he’d like to “assure our family of employees and the community that we will remain the largest and best news and public service organization in the Pacific Northwest now and long into the future.”
The Seattle Times is not alone in facing financial pressures in a rapidly changing industry.
Locally, in recent months KOMO cut 10 positions, including three investigative-team members in its newsroom. NBC News shut down its Seattle-based Breaking News unit, and The Seattle Globalist, a nonprofit news site, is working to raise money from subscribers after the University of Washington announced it would no longer fund the site. Northwest Cable News was scheduled to go dark Friday.
This story has been updated to include the current number of employees.