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Monday, April 7, 2008

Seattle Times to Cut Approximately 200 Employees

posted by on April 7 at 13:10 PM

This email was just sent to Seattle Times staffers by publisher Frank Blethen:

Date: April 7, 2008

To: Seattle Times Employees

From: Frank Blethen and Carolyn Kelly

Due to the continued and increased loss of traditional newspaper revenue for both The Seattle Times and the Seattle P-I, we will be making necessary expense reductions. Our circumstances are in line with the newspaper industry nationally, which continues to see steep declines particularly in areas of Classified ad revenue and also a slowing of online revenue growth.

We had hoped the expense reductions made at the beginning of the year would prevent the need for further downsizing, but that is not the case. The only responsible action to take is to better align our expenses to the reduced revenue we now anticipate.

The SOC team has identified approximately $15 million in budget reductions that will be implemented over the next two months. These include significant changes to the way we do business and involve realignment and centralization throughout our organization. You will hear more about the specific changes in departmental meetings.

The most difficult part of these changes involves a reduction of our workforce of approximately 200 positions through a combination of freezing open positions and a significant number of layoffs. This is not an action we take lightly—we recognize and regret that these decisions have a considerable impact on people’s lives.

Most affected employees are being notified today. In certain job categories, Expressions Of Interest (voluntary separations) are being considered, so there will be some continued uncertainty over the next two weeks until the EOI process has been completed. Alayne Fardella will send out a follow up communication with additional details.

While this is difficult news, it is important to note that the Seattle Times Company and the brands we represent remain market leaders. Our audience reach in print and online is deep and broad in the greater Puget Sound. Strategic and thoughtful changes to the way we do business will allow us to be positioned for the future.

Our success is based on our public service mission and our people. We are grateful for each individual’s contribution toward sustaining The Seattle Times as an independent and meaningful voice in our community far into the future.

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Ah, the side effect of the success of Craigslist...

Posted by Tiktok | April 7, 2008 1:19 PM

I blame Charles Mudede

Posted by Slim | April 7, 2008 1:31 PM

Hmmm, I hadn't thought about blaming Mudede, but now that you mention it. . . .

Posted by Bwana | April 7, 2008 1:37 PM

Reads like any layoff memo I've ever seen:

- this is such a difficult decision
- for those of you not laid off, this is not
the beginning of the end.
- we hope to hire everyone back soon (suggested) by regaining our financial position

Lies, usually, all lies.

The memos alway imply that the action is harder on the company than it on those who losing their livelihood. They should read: Times are changing and we didn't hear the clarion call to adapt. We fucked up big time and we are so very sorry.

Sort of pisses me off.

Posted by Bauhaus | April 7, 2008 1:40 PM

Will the last writer out of the Times please punch Ryan Blethen in the face?

Posted by Greg | April 7, 2008 1:48 PM

Well, if you are a talented writer then why would you still be writing for the Seattle Times in the first place?

Posted by Andrew | April 7, 2008 1:54 PM

#6. A better question would be: If you had ANY initiative at all, why would you still be there?

You'd have to be self-delusional not to have seen this coming.

It was when the Times stopped being innovative, but instead spoon fed pablum to it's readers that I decided it was time to go.

I'd lay money they don't lay off Pam Sitt.

Posted by Yutang | April 7, 2008 2:03 PM

Actually I'm sorry to see this happen. I scan their main page every day, and nearly always find items of interest. Note that, come election time, I usually vote a straight(?) Stranger ticket!

Posted by MarkyMark | April 7, 2008 2:08 PM

A lot of smart, talented people are going to lose their jobs, as is happening throughout the newspaper (and magazine world). I fail to understand why so many of you take such glee in it.

Posted by Bigyaz | April 7, 2008 2:15 PM

its readers, not "it's," yutang ... your (sic) so very missed

Posted by pabulum | April 7, 2008 2:15 PM

#10. Which proves only that I was not a writer.

Takes more than just reporters to put out a paper.

Posted by Yutang | April 7, 2008 2:22 PM

On the way out, run your fingers through Ryan's nasty perm.

Posted by tomasyalba | April 7, 2008 2:26 PM

They should have listened to me four months ago when I said they should start running ads for escort services and massage parlors.

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | April 7, 2008 2:32 PM

It's all Blethen b.s., another bluff. Remember the Blethen threat to sell the building, break the JOA, scrap the arrangement with Knight-Ridder, sell off the other independent newspapers in the Blethen empire. So what happened in each of those cases? It's the little kid who cried wolf, except I think Blethen likes the sound of his own voice. I just don't believe anything this idiot says, and I have no reason why anyone should believe his latest fulminations.

Posted by edward | April 7, 2008 2:38 PM

Funny how they never fail to note that "we continue to be the "greatest" and "our success is based on our people" - the same people they are notifying in the statement that they are getting rid of. Think this letter like this would have make it into the mainstream print media? Not. If so, it would be a month away, when it's no longer news. That's the issue!

Posted by Bob Fontaine | April 7, 2008 2:39 PM

Why do you think Pam Sitt is safe?

Posted by Pez | April 7, 2008 3:08 PM

@16: Because she's irreplaceable. It's not like just anyone could write that column.

Posted by J.R. | April 7, 2008 3:21 PM

I agree!!

Posted by Pez | April 7, 2008 3:29 PM

Pulleez save the Girl Around Town collum. GAWD, what would dreary Seattle be every day without the insights and clear-thinking that Seattleites get from reading that daily delight? I think it's better than a sugar-covered, cream filled donut. Or maybe better than a strawberry jam-filled donut. Or maybe a strawberry-and-cream filled donut covered in glazed sugar. Or, maybe....

Posted by Sugar | April 7, 2008 4:38 PM

fuck all you assholes acting like this is a funny time to talk shit about pamela sitt, like it just got easier or something

yall are cold as fuck. this sucks and that's it

Posted by ndrwmtsn | April 8, 2008 12:46 AM

It sucks big time, but even the big national papers are hurting, the local fishwrappers don't have a prayer.

Posted by Karlheinz Arschbomber | April 8, 2008 4:35 AM

No. 20: What sucks is Pamela Sitt's bland ignorance, big time, and I will be content to say that at anytime to anyone.

Posted by carol | April 8, 2008 6:04 AM

It is sad and as many have noted not unforeseen. I don't know where hard-hitting journalism for the "main stream," i.e. those that actually bother to vote, will come from in the future. Sure, it's already disappearing but much of the real digging is still done by newspapers, if only to be predominantly disseminated and digested online. The old business model is broken but I don't see a viable replacement taking its place ... yet. And while I'm sure many would disagree, I just don't trust most autonomous online sources for accuracy or objectivity, or even a modicum of either. And television? At least on the local level, they really are a bunch of soulless whores.

Finally, I cannot hold much hope for newspapers, or magazines, as successful business models even if they radically shift their primary delivery method online with newsprint as the afterthought.

Newspapers are dead, long live newspapers.

P.S. WhoTF is Pamela Sitt? (Rhetorical)

Posted by tomas | April 8, 2008 6:48 AM

@22: "And I'll do it anonymously! That's how gutsy I am!"

Posted by bigyaz | April 8, 2008 8:48 AM

We are strategicalizing for even more greatness, as we continue to be the leading force in family-owned missionizing. Thank you for allowing us to be outstanding and forward-thrusting.

Posted by frankie b | April 8, 2008 9:09 AM

Couldn't happen to a nicer paper. Now if they'd just get it off my lawn.

Posted by vanderleun | April 8, 2008 9:39 AM

Since Hearst is bleeding the Blethen's so bad, why don't they just sell now instead of later?

Posted by Anon | April 8, 2008 10:56 AM

oh shit, #22, your voice is yours and no one can take that away from you

bitch ass bitch

Posted by ndrwmtsn | April 8, 2008 11:09 AM

#23, what makes you think that journalists have ever been accurate or objective?

They will not be missed.

Posted by Evil Pundit | April 8, 2008 3:51 PM
Posted by vanderleun | April 8, 2008 3:52 PM

"Our success is based on our public service mission and our people."

Huh? Uh, Frank, when you're laying off 200 people, you aren't being successful. You're failing. Because of your people.

You're not failing because of Craigslist. You're failing because you produce a product only 40% of people want ... the 45% who are rabid Democrats.

Which, hey, you're in good company. Almost every lefty paper is also laying off their employees, sacrificing journalism and jobs on the alter of minority political views.

So, I say, congrats. You're killing the business, but on the plus side, Nancy Pelosi is having a great time spending all that money and not bringing the troops home like you promised us she would.

Enjoy your unemployment ... schmucks.

Posted by formertimessubscriber | April 8, 2008 5:25 PM

I have to admit I am a bit surprised by the smug attitude of so many of those who contributed thoughts.

The Times, other newspapers and print publicatons (and really all media) are contending with a sea change in the market due to a variety of long term causes and accelerated by the Internet.

The same thing can be said about a lot of companies in a variety of industries.

Kodak has gone through a difficult shift from film to digital but finally seems to be coming out of it but as a very different company in size and revenue mix vs. 10 years ago.

AT&T still exists but not as the regulated monopoly it was 25 years ago.

Boeing had to develop a more global view of customers and partners that led them to emotionally detach themselves from Seattle on a corporate level with a move to Chicago.

All market shifts cannot be anticipated and some, even when seen, cannot be avoided.

That can be painful but I do not hold in much regard those who are dismissive of those at the Times or other companies as seemingly clueless.

Newspapers are still the core source of quality information and a mix of news and entertainment and, most important, thougtful perspective that is practically impossible in the instant information environment of the Internet.

They also need to turn a profit.

No one knows what the right balance will be in the short run and certainly not for the long run but that does not mean they can just sit around and be victims of change.

I am prejudiced. I was raised as a newspaper reader and print reader in general.

I had a paper route both for the Cap. Hill Times and later the Seattle Times growing up.

I even worked for the Times briefly which, candidly, was not much fun nor a career highlight, but it does not take away my basic respect for the product.

The Times will need to adjust. I do not feel any personal sympathy for Frank Blethen nor any ill will.

You never know when you will be on the short end of the stick of an industry shift or general economic downturn.

How about keeping elitism out of the process and put more thought into what it really means?

Posted by Steve Fawthrop | April 8, 2008 11:21 PM

The Blethens laid off people in Portland Maine one week and then announced they were selling all of their Maine properties four days later. They hung those poor slobs out to dry. Heartless!! Now they are doing the same thing here.

Posted by intheaxe | April 9, 2008 9:24 AM

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