Monday, February 18, 2008
North County Times offering buyouts to reporters/staff
NCT.com NCT offers voluntary buyouts
ESCONDIDO -- In response to a downturn in the economy, North County Times newsroom employees on Wednesday were offered voluntary buyouts.
Publisher Peter York said that advertising artists also were offered buyouts following a recent restructuring of sales teams.
"We've avoided this as long as we were able to," York said. But, he added, the newspaper, which covers North San Diego County and Southwest Riverside County with its Californian edition, is not immune from the realities of the local economy.
The "real estate industry and allied industries like floor covering, home furnishings and landscaping are some of what drives the economy in this region," he said, and the downturn has left the newspaper with declining revenues.
In an e-mail sent to the 130 newsrooom employees, Editor Kent Davy said the paper is seeking up to 20 staff members to volunteer for the buyout. He said no decision had been made on what will happen if that goal is not reached.
In the meantime, Davy said, it is important to stay focused on what the newsroom does each day.
"As we move forward through turbulent times, the goal will always be how to improve the quality of the newspaper even as we have fewer resources to do it," he said. "This staff is composed of remarkable journalists, and I am confident we will overcome these challenges just as we have overcome challenges in the past."
Those who accept the offer will receive one week's severance pay for each year of service up to 26 weeks and some health benefits, according to the e-mail.
The North County Times is not alone in dealing with declining advertising revenues. The Chicago-based Tribune Co. plans to cut 400 to 500 jobs companywide, including about 100 each at the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, the company announced Wednesday.
I recently let my NCT subscription lapse. I had gone from getting the daily paper to only receiving the weekend editions. Then I started feeling burdened by the big stack of newspaper I had lying around the house that needed to be collected and taken to the recycle bin.
I still buy the Sunday NCT from the coast highway hawkers. I still read the color Sunday comics although the only one I like is Mutts.
I use nctimes.com daily. The news is becoming increasingly web based and the concept of daily delivery with a car driving by your house at 4 am is looking more and more archaic.
The NCT website is decent but could be a million times better. They made it easy for bloggers like me by creating the easy copy and paste headline link which is very cool. They are adding video stories which is a good idea.
But, their web advertising is clunky and looks like a website from 1995. I think the NCT could make some good money of their website if they gave it an overhaul. Websites like Craigslist have just killed newspapers which used to make a lot of revenue off classified ads (I still haven't figured out how Craigslist survives if everything is free).
As for the paper itself, many of the stories are not in depth enough. It's like reading the Cliff Notes version of a story. I wonder if they cut back from a daily paper to 3 or 4 times a week if they could concentrate their resources and write deeper stories.
I like the local weekly papers like The Coast News and The Reader. It's nice that those papers linger around all week giving you time to pick it up and absorb it. The Coast News website is not as much fun as the NCT because the Coast News doesn't allow users to post comments.
The NCT has the most active online comment posters. SignOnSanDiego.com, the Union Tribune website, has the occasional story that will grab a lot of comments, but in the last year or so the NCT comments have gone from zero the 20 or more per story (and the posters are good at blaming illegal aliens and gay marriage as the root of every problem).
I think NCT reporter Adam Kaye does a good job covering Encinitas and Leucadia, I just wish some of the issues in town could be covered in more detail. It appears that Encinitas coverage may diminish. Maybe the local watchdogs like the Encinitas Taxpayers Association, Hoodlink and Donna Westbrook can pool their resources and create a really good local news website that explores and archives what is really going on in Encinitas.