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Published: Monday, 11/24/2008

USA Today to cut about 20 newsroom jobs

ASSOCIATED PRESS

McLEAN, Va. The nation's largest newspaper, USA Today, said it will eliminate about 20 newsroom jobs next month to cut costs during the weak economy.

USA Today Editor Ken Paulson told staff in a memo Sunday evening that "we're facing unprecedented economic challenges and we have to cut spending."

The cuts result in a reduction of nearly 5 percent from a newsroom that the company said now employs about 450 people.

The cuts come a year after USA Today shed about 45 newsroom positions through a buyout last November and just a month after parent company Gannett Co. conducted the second round of layoffs for the year at its other properties across the country.

Affected employees will not be offered buyouts this time but will be eligible for a week of severance for every year of employment, up to 26 weeks.

Paulson's memo made no mention of whether jobs outside the newsroom would be lost. But on Monday USA Today Publisher Craig Moon said in an e-mailed statement that the paper is "looking at buyouts and restructuring across the organization as a way to address costs."

USA Today is the nation's top-selling newspaper with an average daily circulation of about 2.3 million. It has held onto its subscribers better than other newspapers but it is not immune from the industry's troubles, which include declining revenue as advertising dollars migrate to the Internet. The economic crisis has exacerbated newspapers' woes.

Gannett, which publishes 85 daily newspapers and nearly 900 non-daily publications, announced job cuts in August and October at its local newspapers division, which includes papers like The Arizona Republic and The Des Moines Register.

Newspapers across the country have been slashing staff in recent months.

On Monday, The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk said it will cut at least 125 positions, about 10 percent of its work force, including about 15 newsroom jobs and may sell or close papers it owns.

The Associated Press said last week it will cut about 10 percent of its 4,100-member work force over the next year.

The Los Angeles Times, The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, The Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J., The Seattle Times and The Tampa Tribune are among many other newspapers that have announced job cuts just in the last month.

Gannett shares, which have lost more than 80 percent of their value in the past 12 months, rose 15 percent, or 97 cents, to close at $7.29 on Monday.



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