May 25, 2016 Last Updated 10:51 am

Another day of media layoffs: NYT announces new buyouts, Vice to layoff more than a dozen

More newsroom and business side buyouts to be offered at The Gray Lady, while a media reporter reacts to the way layoffs are presented as good news at The Telegraph

The first quarter is over and that is often the time when many companies reassess their staffing – and at media companies that often means layoffs.

The NYT: Another round of buyouts were announced today in a staff memo, effecting both the newsroom and business side of the paper.

NYT-TT-400“In order to make essential investments while preserving our financial health, we need to do everything we an to contain and – where we can – reduce our costs,” wrote the paper’s executive committee.

“At the end of the month, we plan to open up a voluntary buyout program in the newsroom and other select departments on the business side. Pachages will be distributed electronically to all eligible employees on May 31.”

Executive Editor Dean Baquet just last week said that more newsroom layoffs were not in the offing for this calendar year (he might be right, as the paper prefers buyouts to layoffs).

The buyouts, combined with talent simply leaving for other media outlets, is leaving the impression that the paper cannot hold onto its most valuable staff. Also, the constant buyouts are making those who thought they might make a career of the Times reconsider whether that truly is a good choice.

Vice News: Politico reported yesterday that more than a dozen Vice News digital producers, writers and editors were laid off in New York and Los Angeles, while the entire UK editorial team was let go, as well.

The Telegraph: As TNM reported yesterday, word of layoffs at The Telegraph leaked out under the guise of readjusting the work environment.

“With changes in the way we work, and hot-desking for some of those who need to be in the office, we will be able to reduce the size of our footprint at BPR,” Murdoch MacLennan, chief executive of parent Telegraph Media Group (TMG) wrote in a memo, referring to the newspaper’s headquarters in at Buckingham Palace Road in London.

I was skeptical of the tone of the memo, with its reference to creating “a better work-life balance.” While at McGraw-Hill, I saw the Construction Information Group decimated by the division’s president who had just read a book on management and wanted to implement its theories which encouraged downsizing to the group. Most of the talent of the regional publications group soon left the company and now McGraw-Hill is completely out of the B2B magazine business.

“I believe that this will allow many of us to have a better work-life balance and I hope you will welcome this modern, employee-friendly approach that is so much in line with the changes in the media world,” MacLennan said in his memo.

Roy Greenslade of The Guardian has picked up on this, as well, and is having none of it.

“It’s MacLennan’s unsophisticated version of the first-the-good-news, now-the-bad-news joke. Not so funny, however, for the people who must walk the plank,” Greenslade wrote today.

“Forget the spin, and tell it like it is. TMG is making money but its owners, the Barclay brothers, want more… and more… and more.”

Note: Although it sometimes seems like some in the media, including TNM I suppose, get a kick out of reporting layoffs in the media, I see this differently – it is like a slap in the face, or a cry for help. It is that moment when you say “hey, this is happening. Are we going to do anything different, or just stay on this same road?”

The answer, usually, is ‘stay on this same road.’ Why? Because there are those who have made a career out of telling us that print is alive and well and enduring. Digital? Well, I suppose it’s a thing. Slap a trademark next to your name and proclaim the past is the future, and nothing will ever change.

Except few media professions will still be around to celebrate the triumph of traditional media, their positions having been eliminated.

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