Magazine article Editor & Publisher

'Star-Ledger' Newsroom Buyout Count Low -- as Deadline Nears

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

'Star-Ledger' Newsroom Buyout Count Low -- as Deadline Nears

Article excerpt

About a month after The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., announced it would need 200 employees to take buyouts or the newspaper could be sold, the paper is falling short of getting enough newsroom takers with less than a month to go before the Oct. 1 deadline.

Editor Jim Willse and Publisher George Arwady have not commented on how many staffers have applied for the buyouts first offered July 31. But several staffers say the overall 200-person number may have been met, but the unofficial call for about 100 newsroom staffers is not being reached.

In an e-mail to one reporter who had sought information about the buyout offer, Arwady indicated that newsroom buyout applicants had been on the low side.

"At this time I have no update to give you on our buyouts thus far, except to tell you that the newsroom has a long way to go to reach the goal that Jim announced," Arwady wrote to reporter Ron Marsico on Sunday in an e-mail that has circulated throughout the paper. "As I've said repeatedly, people should make decisions about the buyout offer based on what's right for them."

Marsico referred calls about the e-mail to Arwady, who has not responded Wednesday to requests for comment.

The paper has also said that several non-editorial unions must agree to changes in their contracts, along with the buyouts, to keep the paper under current ownership. The Star-Ledger has no newsroom union.

In other recent e-mails to Arwady, Marsico also touched on concerns shared by several staffers who spoke with E&P that the buyout offer at the Star-Ledger -- one year's salary -- is less than those at The Oregonian of Portland and The Plain Dealer of Cleveland, which are also owned by Advance Publications.

"George: Has the Newhouse family explained to you why there appear to be significant differences between the buyout packages offered the staffs of The Star-Ledger, Oregonian and Plain Dealer?" Marsico wrote in an e-mail Aug. 26 to Arwady. "If so, I believe it would be helpful for the reasons to be explained to the Ledger's employees. Thanks. -- Ron."

Arwady's response: "Thanks for asking. Advance is an unusual company. Each newspaper's situation is different because it has a different market, different history, different competition, different cost structures and different benefit situations. …

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