Monday, February 16, 2009

Upcoming AJC cuts to be 'substantial'

Posted By on Mon, Feb 16, 2009 at 11:30 PM

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Rumors have been swirling for weeks on Marietta Street about when — and on whom — the next shoe will drop. Just over the weekend, one AJC staffer told me the buzz around the building was that something big was about to come down.

Well, that hunch looks to have been correct. This morning, AJCers were asked to report to various small-bunch meetings at 11 a.m., where they were told "substantial" changes would be coming soon. Staffers were instructed not to discuss the content of the brief meetings, but from what I understand, they didn't get many details anyway.

It seems the forthcoming changes will involve the merging of some sections of the print edition. This wouldn't be a huge surprise to most observers, who've watched weekday sections shrink to eight, and sometimes even six, pages. There are days when the Metro section doesn't contain a single paid ad, not counting paid obits, in-house promotional ads and trade-outs for AJC-sponsored events.

Apparently, the business section will be folded into the front, or "A" section. As for other changes, we'll find out soon enough. But whatever happens, the result will be fewer jobs.

The AJC has gone through two rounds of buyouts — in spring 2007 and fall 2008 — and the feeling I get from staffers is that we won't see a third round. Instead, the next step will be layoffs.

The logic goes that buyouts are fine if you have a bulging payroll and you simply want to lighten the overall load. But when you get down to the bone, you have to use a more precise tool to allow you to cut out redundancies while keeping the resources you need.

It's not known when layoffs would happen, but the expectation is for sooner rather than later. More later…

(Photo by Joeff Davis)

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