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WaPo Offers Buyouts

WaPo is offering voluntary buyouts to “some newsroom employees.” It isn’t intended for “every department” or every individual,” stresses Exec. Editor Marcus Brauchli in a morning memo. “Our objective is a limited staff reduction that won’t affect the quality, ambition or authority of our journalism. We believe this is possible, given the changes in how we work and the great successes we have had building our digital readership lately.”

Those employees who are offered the deal have 45 days to decide.

Interesting line from Brauchli: “We may turn down some volunteers if we feel their departure would impair our journalism. That said, it is important that we achieve real savings.”

Best example of corporate speak: “The exact details of the buyout, technically a voluntary Separation Incentive Program, will come later, after the company talks to the Guild about its proposed terms.”

Today at WaPo brass will hold two “Town Hall” meetings — one at 11 a.m., another at 4:30 p.m. to answer questions.

See the memo…

From: Marcus Brauchli
Date: Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Subject: Announcement to newsroom staff
To: NEWS – All Newsroom <allnewsroom@washpost.com>

To the staff:

Today, we are announcing that we will offer a voluntary buyout to some
Newsroom employees. Our objective is a limited staff reduction that won’t
affect the quality, ambition or authority of our journalism. We believe
this is possible, given the changes in how we work and the great successes
we have had building our digital readership lately.

To preserve that momentum, we do not intend to offer this program to every
department or individual in the Newsroom. The reality is that we’re able to
absorb staffing changes better in some areas than in others. In those
departments where we do offer the buyout, there will be caps on the number
of people who can participate, in order to moderate the impact and preserve
our competitiveness in core coverage areas. In addition, we may turn down
some volunteers if we feel their departure would impair our journalism.
That said, it is important that we achieve real savings.

The exact details of the buyout, technically a voluntary Separation
Incentive Program, will come later, after the company talks to the Guild
about its proposed terms. Here’s what we can tell you now: The program does
not accelerate pension benefits. It will include enhanced separation
payments and company-paid COBRA (health insurance) premiums for eligible
fulltime employees. Post representatives will be discussing the proposed
program with the Guild over the next two weeks, consistent with the terms
of the labor contract. The terms they agree on also will be included in an
offer to Newsroom editors in eligible departments.

This program will be available for a specified period of time only;
employees will have 45 days to study this offer and decide whether to
accept it or decline it. The Post will schedule the final date of
employment for those who elect to resign as part of this program; for most
employees this will mean a resignation date of May 31, 2012.

Any measure like this is difficult. But we believe this approach is a
sensible and effective way of addressing the economic forces affecting our
industry. We constantly rethink how we do certain things in order to become
more efficient, agile and competitive; this will require more such
thinking. The Post’s Newsroom remains formidable, and we will continue
making tactical hires so that even as we get smaller, we get stronger.

We plan to distribute SIP packages to eligible employees in a few weeks. We
will have two Town Hall meetings today, at 11 a.m. in the Community Room
and at 4:30 p.m. in the Auditorium, to answer your questions.

Marcus                     Liz                        Shirley
Peter

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