Positions at TNI, Tucson Citizen; economy blamed
The Tucson Citizen and Tucson Newspapers Inc. will lay off about 15 employees before the end of the month, officials for both companies said Friday.
Tucson Newspapers handles the nonnews functions for the Citizen and the Arizona Daily Star, such as printing, advertising and delivery.
The layoffs are part of larger nationwide staff cuts by U.S. Community Publishing, a division of Gannett Co. Inc. The company Friday announced a work force reduction of about 1,000 employees. About 400 of those positions will be eliminated by having positions vacated by retirements and resignations go unfilled. The rest will come from layoffs, the company said.
The reduction represents about 3 percent of the company’s work force.
Mike Jameson, TNI president and chief executive officer, in a letter to company employees Friday, said USCP is requiring TNI and the Citizen to eliminate 30 positions. About half of those will be through attrition, with the rest through layoffs. The companies combined have about 750 employees.
Citizen Interim Editor Jennifer Boice told managers and some newsroom employees Thursday she expects the Citizen will have to eliminate about “2.5 to 3″ full-time equivalent positions. She said the newspaper has 73 FTEs.
Boice and Jameson said laid-off employees will be given at least two weeks’ severance pay with additional severance equal to one week for every year worked.
Boice, in a letter to employees Friday, said the number of positions to be eliminated for each of the more than 80 newspapers affected in USCP was determined by each publication’s “financial performance.”
Jameson and Boice in interviews Friday blamed the need for the layoffs on slow national and local economies. Boice also said the transition of advertisers and news to the Internet is playing a role in newspaper income both here and nationally.
Both were cautious about saying whether some of the positions might return if the economy improves.
“As the economy improves and business improves along with it, we will staff accordingly,” Jameson said.
Boice said this year has been the “toughest” she’s seen in the 25 years she’s been at the Citizen, which has had dwindling circulation for years although its Web site traffic is steadily increasing yearly. She was named senior editor for news in 2004 and became interim editor in June after the retirement of Editor and Publisher Michael Chihak.
She said she is optimistic about the newspaper’s future.
“I believe that what we create here with the newspaper and Web site will continue to be relevant and reliable sources of information,” she told employees in her letter. “Nearly two-thirds of all adults in Pima County read one of the two newspapers and/or look at the Web sites every week.
“While these steps we are taking are painful, I hope we can all emerge from this economic downturn stronger.”
Jameson said the announcement of which employees will be laid off will be made Aug. 27 or 28.