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New York Times Freezes Wages, New Yorker on the Print Crisis

Newspaper Stand.jpgThis week The New Yorker gets aboard the collapse of the newspaper industry train:

The real problem for newspapers, in other words, isn’t the Internet; it’s us. We want access to everything, we want it now, and we want it for free. That’s a consumer’s dream, but eventually it’s going to collide with reality: if newspapers’ profits vanish, so will their product.

In related news, the New York Times has announced that it is freezing wages in 2009 for non-union staff both in print and online (full text of Sulzberger’s memo after the jump). It is a measure of how bad things are right now that news of a wage freeze, as opposed to mass layoffs, is greeted with some measure of relief. However, perhaps even better would be news of a Times Co. dividend freeze(!), which were (finally) cut significantly last month but not done away with altogether, even on a temporary basis. Says Arthur Sulzberger in the memo: “The decision to freeze wages at current levels was not taken lightly. For all of our aggressive efforts to streamline our businesses and to reduce our expenses, including the consolidation of production facilities, the restructuring of our newspaper distribution and the Board’s decision to reduce our dividend, we felt that it was essential to take this step to further control our costs during these hard times.” The overall takeaway? Sooner than later we are going to start getting what we pay for and then, you know, once that sinks in paying for what we want.


Sent: Fri, 12 Dec. 2008 3:09 pm

Subject: Note from Arthur

Dear Colleagues,

The deepening recession and the structural changes confronting our industry continue to present us with difficult challenges. Advertising revenues at both the paper and the Web site remain weak and the financial outlook for 2009 is daunting. For these reasons, we have decided to forgo pay increases for all non-union employees in the coming year.

The decision to freeze wages at current levels was not taken lightly. For all of our aggressive efforts to streamline our businesses and to reduce our expenses, including the consolidation of production facilities, the restructuring of our newspaper distribution and the Board’s decision to reduce our dividend, we felt that it was essential to take this step to further control our costs during these hard times.

We remain a great brand, a great organization and a great culture; our journalism remains the gold standard, not just here but around the globe, and we reach more people each day on the web than any other newspaper company. With your help and support, Scott, Bill, Andy, Martin and I are confident that The Times will come through this difficult period, and we will emerge stronger than ever.

Arthur

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