The gathering storm

Anxiety on Morrissey Boulevard
By ADAM REILLY  |  February 20, 2008

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LIFE IMITATES ART: Season Five of The Wire concerns newsroom cutbacks, not unlike the ones handed down at the New York Times recently.

This past week’s announcement that the New York Times plans to cut 100 newsroom jobs was bad news for the journalists of the Gray Lady. But it was also a blow to reporters and editors at the Boston Globe — which is owned by the New York Times Company. Here’s why: if business is bad enough that the Times is shedding employees, it’s almost certain that the Globe will follow suit.

The questions are: when, and how many? For now, Globe publisher Steve Ainsley isn’t saying. (“We are always looking for operational efficiencies in every part of our business,” Ainsley said in a statement provided to the Phoenix. “These considerations could include staffing levels where appropriate.”) According to other sources, though, the cuts could come as early as this week.

The magnitude of the attrition is harder to predict — but however many positions are lost, it’s likely to hurt. Some of the cutbacks will be covered by a handful of jobs that have been left unfilled in anticipation of this scenario. In addition, the Globe will probably offer buy-outs to some of the employees who unsuccessfully requested them during the paper’s most recent round of cutbacks, this past spring.

If this isn’t enough, however, the paper might resort to layoffs, which could target some of the paper’s promising new talent and have a devastating effect on newsroom morale.

The consolation is this: if anyone other than the Times Company owned the Globe, the cuts would almost certainly be much worse. That may seem like cold comfort, but in today’s newspaper industry, you take what you can get.

  Topics: Media -- Dont Quote Me , Media, Newspapers, Steve Ainsley
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