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Merc to cut 40 newsroom jobs; no buyouts

The Mercury News announced it will eliminate 40 of its 240 full-time newsroom jobs next month, a 17 percent reduction, executive editor Carole Leigh Hutton (pictured) announced today. No decisions on who will be laid off have been made, but the number of layoffs will likely be less than 40 because some employees were planning to leave before the cuts were announced.

No buyouts are being offered.

Under the paper’s agreement with the San Jose Newspaper Guild, management has to consider four factors in determining who gets laid off, according to Hutton — qualifications, competency, the ability to do available work and seniority.

“It’s a business decision. It’s a difficult thing to do,” Hutton told the AP. “We value the work of these people. We’re not laying off poor performers. We’re laying off journalists that are a key part of our organization.”

The Merc cut 52 people from its newsroom through buyouts in November 2005 and laid off 15 in December 2006, according to the Guild.

The cuts were not unexpected, though the size was less than previously reported. John McManus of San Jose State j-school, posted an article May 31 that said the Merc planned to cut 60 jobs, about a quarter of its newsroom. On June 6, Hutton called a staff meeting to say that there would be cuts, but an exact number hadn’t been determined.

Hutton, former editor and publisher of the Detroit Free Press, replaced Susan Goldberg, who resigned last month to take the top newsroom job at the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Her departure followed a meeting where management told her that deep cuts needed to be made in the newsroom of the paper Dean Singleton’s MediaNews Group has owned since August.

The Chronicle is also in the midst of cutting 100 of its 400 newsroom positions. Two weeks after the planned layoffs were announced, the No. 2 person that newsroom, Managing Editor Robert Rosenthal, resigned.

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