Huntsville Times offering employees voluntary buyouts

Huntsville Times offering employees voluntary buyouts

By Trang Do - Bio | Email

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - With increasing competition from the Internet and ad revenues on a downward spiral, newspapers across the country are facing a financial crisis, and the crunch is hitting home here in the Valley.

The Huntsville Times is offering voluntary buy-outs to employees.

One of the reasons: the cost of newsprint, the actual paper that is printed on, has gone up 60 percent in the past two years.

In a move to cut labor costs, the Huntsville Times is offering employees who have more than ten years of service or who are 60 years of age or older with five years of service voluntary buyouts.

Times Publisher Bob Ludwig says the packages include one to two years pay plus extended health coverage.

"It's up to the employee," he said. "We make them an offer and then they have 45 days to make a decision as to whether or not they would like to be considered for that offer."

And it's not a circulation issue. The Huntsville Times is one of only ten papers nationally that's seen its circulation numbers increase since its last audit.

"The bulk of our money comes from advertising, and when that advertising is transferred from looking over to an Internet site, you just don't have as much revenue coming in," Ludwig said.

The Times doesn't involuntarily lay-off full-time, non-union employees, so they may have to resort to other means to save money.

"You'd have to reduce your coverage, you'd have to reduce travel, you'd have to change the size of the newspaper basically to try to figure out ways to reduce newsprint costs," Ludwig said.

Another buyout option for employees is retraining or relocation and Ludwig says he's already gotten some interest.