Thursday, June 26, 2008

S.J. Merc staff gutted by 62.5%

The lightning-round layoffs due to cut the newsroom of the San Jose Mercury News by another nine employees by tomorrow night means the staff will have been pared by fully 62.5% from its peak strength in 2000.

The newspaper was perhaps the primary beneficiary of the Internet Bubble, when aggressive competition for dot-comers pumped its want-ad revenues to stratospheric – and, as it proved – unsustainable highs. By some accounts, the paper dropped $100 million a year in recruitment sales when the Internet mania collapsed as the new millennium dawned.

During the giddy boom in Silicon Valley, the staff of the Merc swelled to some 400 journalists. But the crew will be reduced to 150 by close of business tomorrow, dropping headcount 62.5% from the all-time high.

(UPDATE 6.26.08: A Merc insider says the latest informaton since last night is that the stafff will number 155 after the cuts vs. an all-time high of 420. At that rate, the staff will be 63% smaller than at its peak.)

Apart from the entire staffs idled at newspapers that have gone out of business, the Merc looks, on a percentage basis, to be taking the worst hits in an industry that has taken plenty of them.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Todd said...

Actually, the staff peaked at 410, according to the New York Times.
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9403E5DE1F3DF932A15750C0A9679C8B63

12:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

how do they keep operating? it's hard to imagine just about any other business cutting staff by 2/3 and continuing to be viable.

will anyone notice when big-market newspapers just start shutting down?

2:46 PM  
Anonymous Alan Flaherty said...

It's interesting to note trends in news staffing vs. circ numbers at the Merc. Traditionally, dailes have had a little more than one news staffer per thousand circulation. In early 2001, the Merc had 410 news staffers (apparently) and 284K daily circulation, or about 1.44 staffers per thousand circ. In 2008, the corresponding figures are 155 staffers and 235K circ, for a ratio of 0.66 staffers per thousand circ. Probably the way MediaNews will make this work is by pooling news/editorial resources and content among all MNI papers in the Bay Area. The Merc has probably gone from the highest news-staff-to-circ ratio in the US to the lowest.

3:55 AM  

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