Star-Ledger Offers Buyouts to Cut Losses

NJ's largest paper is expected to lose $10 million this year.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NJ newspaper offers buyouts to cut losses.

    New Jersey's largest newspaper is offering more buyouts to employees as it faces mounting financial pressure.

    In a memo to employees, the publisher of The Star-Ledger of Newark said the newspaper is expected to lose about $10 million this year.  The newspaper lost about $9 million last year.

    Publisher Richard Vezza wrote that full-time employees will be offered a buyout that will pay them one year's salary plus medical benefits.  Employees will have 45 days to make a decision.

    Salaries would be adjusted and some job duties could be combined, Vezza said in the memo, adding that he will meet with union officials to discuss cutbacks.

    Employees hired before Jan. 1, 2006 will be eligible for the buyout.  In an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, Vezza said he hasn't set a target number for the buyouts.

    "This is really the first step in our budget process for 2011," he said.  "I expect a fair amount of people are going to apply, but I really don't want to guess on how many we are going to get."

    In the fall of 2008, publisher George Arwady threatened to sell or close the newspaper if it couldn't reach an agreement with its drivers union.  An agreement eventually was reached, and more than 300 full-time, nonunion employees agreed to a buyout, including nearly half of the newspaper's 334 editorial employees.

    Last year, the paper stopped contributing to its employee pension plan and mandated 10-day furloughs for employees.

    Unlike the buyout push in 2008, there is no threat to close the newspaper this time, Vezza said Tuesday.

    "We're simply pointing out that we need to reduce the staff, and we're going to see what it produces,'' he said.

    "What we're facing now is no longer a loss of revenue to the  Internet; our Internet revenue has done very well,'' Vezza added.  "The economy is what's hurting us, and I don't see that turning around in 2011. Once the economy starts to improve, we and most newspapers are going to be in good shape from having reduced expenses.''