Local newspapers announce possible cuts

February 19, 2008 11:48:12 PM PST
Bay Area newspaper employees are now bracing for another round of layoffs.

The owner of more than a dozen Bay Area newspapers is offering buyouts to just about anyone who'll take them, and layoffs could follow.

Many Mercury News employees walked out of their San Jose offices with a somber outlook on the future of their jobs. They had just heard that the newspaper wants to downsize dramatically.

"It's a scary thing in this area with housing being what it is. I've got a 7- year-old daughter at home I really worry about her future," said San Jose Mercury News employee Steven Chae.

Mercury News publisher Mac Tully says the media landscape is changing. Competition from other media sources like the web and television demand some operating changes. He says he's offering voluntary buyouts to his 200 non-union employees first.

"We really need to see what the reaction to the buyout is going to be. Because it's not a nose reduction this is an expense reduction," said Mercury News Publisher Mac Tully.

Noses -- being employees. In fact, the Media News Group is planning to reduce its workforce in every one of the 16 Bay Area newspapers it owns. About 1,100 employees total have been asked to take a buyout. If you read one of these major Bay Area papers, then you're going to see changes.

"It's really disturbing and we believe that newspapers play an absolutely vital role for society, for the public," said San Jose Mercury News Employee Karen De Sa.

Karen De Sa recently published a report after a one-year investigation into the state's Juvenile Dependency Courts.

"We are the voice of the voiceless and we hope to continue doing this work," said De Sa.

Mercury News Publisher Mac Tully says even with these changes that he is optimistic about the future.

"We'll be a big player in the Internet, I think newspapers have a great future it'll be a bit different than it was in the past but frankly it will be a great future," said Tully.

Employees say that on March 7th they will know exactly how many non-union workers took the voluntary buyouts, and whether there were enough of them to make future layoffs unnecessary.