Call it Black Ink Friday: New York’s newspaper industry finished out the week on a serious low note.
Significant staff reductions are imminent for both of the city’s major tabloids, the Daily News and the New York Post. Meanwhile, the hits keep coming for what’s left of the pioneering alternative weekly, the Village Voice.
On Wednesday, Capital New York’s Joe Pompeo reported that the Daily News is axing 15 staffers, including the veteran gossiper Joanna Molloy, of “Rush & Molloy” fame. Citing multiple sources, Pompeo wrote that employees at the newspaper had been fearing the layoffs for weeks. That report was followed by a second round of layoffs that will affect Daily News bureaus in the outer boroughs.
The following day, Pompeo posted a memo from Col Allan, editor-in-chief of the New York Post, who told staffers he was looking shrink the Post’s newsroom by 10 percent.
“Today we are offering voluntary buyouts to a limited number of newsroom employees,” Allan said in the memo. “We plan to meet with eligible employees today and discuss with them their options and the package being offered to them. We do not intend to offer buyouts to every department or individual.”
In addition to the buyout offers, Allan added that “other measures” would be taken if necessary. The move is not surprising given the pending split of the Post’s parent company, News Corp. (NASDAQ:NWSA), which is spinning off its publishing entities from its more profitable entertainment and media properties. The spinoff, due to be finalized in coming months, has led to speculation over the future of the Post, which loses an estimated $110 million per year.
Finally, as reported by the New York Times’ David Carr on Friday, two of the Village Voice’s recently hired top editors have decided to quit the paper rather than carry out layoffs dictated by Christine Brennan, executive editor of the parent Voice Media Group. Will Bourne and Jessica Lustig, the Voice’s executive editor and deputy editor, respectively, told Carr that the layoffs would have affected five of the paper’s 20 employees.
The Voice has denied that account, however.
“Contrary to published reports, those changes do not involve laying off five members of the editorial staff,” Voice Media Group said in a statement. “The proposed changes do include minimal staff reductions, and directly align with the long-term growth strategy of Voice Media Group. They will ultimately support the ongoing sustainability of the Village Voice.”
IBTimes reached out to Voice Media Group, but a group representative declined further comment.
Over the past decade, the embattled Village Voice has been through a seemingly never-ending barrage of challenges, including the departure of five chief editors, lawsuits at its Craigslist-style classified website (which it has since shed), two changes in ownership and the ouster of most of its major writers. The longtime culture columnist Michael Musto is one of the paper’s few remaining familiar bylines, and, according to Gawker, he is among the staffers targeted in the layoffs.
For media reporters, cataloguing the ongoing troubles of the newspaper industry has become a masochistic sport of sorts. Erica Smith, a former social media editor at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, is keeping a running layoff tally, buoyed by interactive Google Maps at the website Paper Cuts. For 2012 alone, Smith catalogued 1,859 layoffs and buyouts at U.S. newspapers.