TACOMA, Wash. Three McClatchy-owned newspapers in Washington are asking some employees to accept voluntary staff reduction buyouts as the papers cut costs because of declining revenue.
It's the second round of cuts in three months at The Olympian, The News Tribune of Tacoma and the Tri-City Herald in Kennewick.
Publishers announced the moves Monday as part of a national belt-tightening by the Sacramento, Calif.-based McClatchy Co. chain.
Olympian Publisher John Winn Miller said the paper is shifting to a 37 1/2-hour work week for all hourly employees and offering buyouts to 38 of the newsroom's 45 full- and part-time print and online employees.
"Unfortunately, despite our progress, the economy continues to worsen, and we must reduce expenses further," Miller told employees in an e-mail.
In June, the Olympia newspaper cut 17 positions, including four in news and online operations, as part of McClatchy's elimination of 1,400 jobs corporation-wide. More recently, Miller announced one-year pay freezes while the company shifts to a business model that emphasizes online news delivery.
The company also has consolidated advertising, technology and circulation departments with The News Tribune.
Miller said he thinks The Olympian, which has 180 full- and part-time workers, will survive as an independent news voice in the state capital.
The News Tribune offered voluntary buyout deals to 189 of its 350 full-time staffers.
Publisher David Zeeck said the expense trimming could involve layoffs, depending on the response to the buyout offer and what savings can be achieved elsewhere. He declined to say how much the paper was trying to achieve in annual savings.
"The first order of business is any expense reduction that doesn't involve people," Zeeck said.
The newspaper also said it has imposed work week reductions on all hourly workers.
In June, 82 News Tribune workers left the paper in a similar staff reduction.
Tri-City Herald Publisher Rufus Friday said voluntary layoff packages have been offered to about 60 of the paper's more than 200 employees. In June, nine full- and part-time positions were cut, none of them in the newsroom.
No target number for job reductions has been set at any of the three papers, but if too few employees apply for voluntary layoffs, they may consider involuntary layoffs, executives said.
Friday said the Herald's advertising, print circulation and online readership are better than some other papers. "We're just not immune to what is happening on the national stage," he said.