Times Co. honchos “correct” the record

This is already floating around the intertubes. But since Media Nation obtained its own copy earlier this morning, I will post it here in full — a company-wide e-mail from New York Times Co. chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and president Janet Robinson. Enjoy.

June 25, 2009

To Our Colleagues,

The month of May came and went and, contrary to the prediction of one writer, we did not stop printing The New York Times. But given all the speculation and incorrect information that has been reported about our Company, we think it is important to create a regular letter written so that you get the facts directly from us — on the record. In the first of what we expect will be frequent e-mails, we’d like to talk about recent events at The Boston Globe. Future letters will discuss financial transactions, advertising, circulation, costs and the digital challenges we face as well as other issues as they arise.

All of you know, only too well, that this has been a difficult time for the economy, the industry and our Company. The recession has amplified the downward secular trends in our business and caused steep declines in advertising revenue, particularly in the recruitment, real estate and automotive categories.

The Globe was one of the first metropolitan newspapers to be deeply affected by the secular and cyclical forces that are now roiling the entire media industry. Revenues at the New England Media Group (which includes the Globe, Boston.com, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette and its Web site) have declined from $700 million in 2004 to $524 million last year.

In the fall of 2008, the Globe and Boston.com developed a strategic plan to deal with their operating loss, which earlier this year was projected to be roughly $85 million in 2009. The plan has several components to increase revenues and lower costs. Here are the strategic steps we have taken:

  • We have just completed the consolidation of printing facilities in Boston, which is expected to save $18 million a year.
  • In the last month, we significantly raised prices on newsstand and home-delivered copies of the paper.
  • The compensation of the Globe’s managers and other nonunion employees were significantly reduced in 2009/2010 through a salary reduction and elimination of their annual incentive plan.
  • The Globe’s labor contracts are being restructured in order to save $20 million in annual operating costs — essential to our turnaround plan. We had reached agreements with seven unions that provided slightly more than $10 million in savings. Yesterday we reached an agreement, which is subject to ratification, with the Boston Newspaper Guild, which would provide us with another $10 million in expense reductions.

There will be still more to come but with these steps the Globe is on a path to a more secure financial future. We are deeply grateful to all of our colleagues in Boston for the hard work and sacrifices they have made to put the Globe on a stronger financial footing. In future letters, you’ll hear from us about other things we are doing to strengthen our Company and prepare us for the future. These are tough times and we recognize that all of you are working very hard to make tomorrow better than today.

Thank you, we deeply appreciate it.

Arthur & Janet

An observation: What “incorrect information” are Sulzberger and Robinson referring to? I see nothing remarkable in here — nothing new, no correcting of errors. The Times wouldn’t run a letter accusing it of inaccuracies without specifying what they are. So what are Sulzberger and Robinson talking about?

5 thoughts on “Times Co. honchos “correct” the record

  1. Peter Porcupine

    'Secular' forces? What, Art and Jan, we weren't properly worshipful?I assume this is meant as a derivative of 'sector', as that's how it's used, but still…these people are in the COMMUNICATION, not arcana, business, no?The image of the Glob and NYT as vicitms of secular humanism will keep me chuckling all day.

  2. Dan Kennedy

    PP: Here is the meaning you're looking for: "going on from age to age; continuing through long ages."It's become a favorite jargony expression in the newspaper business. The advertising decline caused by the recession is cyclical. The hollowing-out of the business caused by the Internet is secular.I don't like the term and don't use it myself. But there you go.

  3. InsiderNegot

    Absolutely nothing here!The only reasons I can think of are: To awkwardly introduce their email series, which based on this should be a real page-turner!Or To not-so-subtly let it be known that there is “more to come” at the Globe, which everyone knows and is foolish with another vote looming in July.What is this mumbo-jumbo? Looking forward to this literary series!

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