Monday, January 4, 2010

In New Year, NYT Co.'s workforce seen below 9K; outlook appears better -- depending on economy

[Job cuts: NYT Co. employment, 2004-2008]

Following another series of job cuts, the New York Times Co. starts the year with a workforce at least 6% smaller than a year ago, according to recent company disclosures and a new review of public documents filed with federal regulators. But the actual figure almost certainly will be higher, when the company discloses the count in its next annual report in about two months. The question: Whether the decline will exceed the 9% drop between 2007-2008.

The outlook for 2010 employment, on the other hand, looks modestly better compared to a year ago, amid rosier advertising forecasts as the economy emerges from the deepest recession in decades. The strength and path of that recovery is a key factor, leading blogger Alan Mutter said in a new post last week.

A robust economy could boost ad buying among retailers, car dealers, employers and real estate agents. "It does not follow, however," Mutter cautions, "that advertisers will return to their former behavior. After being forced to do more marketing with less money during the worst economy since the 1930s, advertisers in every key newspaper and broadcast category have learned to become increasingly proficient at low-cost, highly-targetable, meticulously-measurable interactive advertising."

Missing: City & Suburban cuts
NYT Co.'s newest total workforce total is due in the next annual report, expected at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission by early March. In advance of that report, it's possible to ballpark the number. To begin, the company had 9,346 employees at the start of 2009, according to the last annual S.E.C. report, called a 10-K filing. (See chart, above.)

Since then, however, the company closed its City & Suburban distribution business in New York City, eliminating 500 jobs; that step was announced in late 2008. More recently, the flagship New York Times cut 100 newsroom jobs, through buyouts and layoffs. That figure, however, didn't include any cuts in other departments.

Moreover, at least one of the NYT Co.'s regional newspapers, the The Press Democrat in Santa Rosa, Calif., has announced a 10% cut in its payroll; it's hard to imagine that other dailies in the 14-paper group haven't also reduced employment. Plus, The Boston Globe started 2009 with plans to cut 12% of its newsroom jobs -- about 50 in total. Once more, that's just the editorial side of the business; other cuts no doubt occurred beyond the newsroom.

Earlier: In workforce trims, some NYT Co. units lost more

Related: CEO Janet Robinson's remarks to media stock analysts at last month's UBS conference

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[Image: yesterday's Globe, Newseum]

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