Tacoma Urbanist

Sep. 8, 2008 at 10:16pm

More Layoffs? News Tribune Offers Buyouts to 189

More Troubling Media News:

From the Seattle PI

Tacoma paper offers buyouts to 189 of 350 staffers


TACOMA, Wash. -- The News Tribune on Monday offered voluntary buyout deals to 189 of its 350 full-time staffers although the publisher said the newspaper doesn't intend to accept anywhere near that number as it works to bring its expenses in line with reduced advertising income.

"The first order of business is any expense reduction that doesn't involve people," Publisher David Zeeck said in a telephone interview, adding the paper is looking at other, unspecified things in terms of both revenues and expenses.


What areas are they going to cut now?

Better rev the Tacoma Blogosphere and the indy media up to take up the slack.

comments [41]  |  posted under tacoma


by Erik on 9/8/2008 @ 10:25pm
From Olympia:

OLYMPIA – The Olympian is shifting to a 37.5-hour workweek for all hourly employees and cutting newsroom jobs for the second time since June, Publisher John Winn Miller said Monday.

Miller announced the cutbacks in an e-mail to staff and later explained the company's buyout offers to 38 of the newsroom's 45 full- and part-time print and online employees. He said there was no specific quota or target number of jobs to eliminate through the buyouts, and he was unable to say what dollar savings the company must reach.

"Unfortunately, despite our progress, the economy continues to worsen, and we must reduce expenses further," Miller told employees in his e-mail, adding in person that it's something other McClatchy Co. papers have done since the June layoffs.


by Erik on 9/8/2008 @ 10:28pm
From the News Tribune:

“I know these are difficult, stressful times,” Publisher David Zeeck wrote in a memo to staffers. “But I also know that the work we do is important, and I want to reassure you that our overarching focus remains the same: to be the most trusted supplier of local news and advertising for the South Sound.”

The company is offering employees a buyout package of two weeks’ pay for every year of service up to 13 years and some health benefits.


by NineInchNachos on 9/8/2008 @ 10:39pm

by morgan on 9/8/2008 @ 10:53pm
Ok, this is getting serious. For all their shortcomings, it's hard to imagine there being no TNT... even if the first "T" isn't for Tacoma.

by NineInchNachos on 9/8/2008 @ 10:58pm
at least Mr. Briggs is in a better place now.

did he see the writing on the wall?

by Erik on 9/9/2008 @ 12:13am
Perhaps they should sell off that now far over sized building they have on the edge of Tacoma into downtown and get their remaining reporters into the heart of the city.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 9/9/2008 @ 12:58am
Given the way the staffing is going they can probably move the whole operation into the site of the former Mocha Mountain on St. Helens. Actually it would be kind of cool to have the Trib back in the Ledger building further down the street.

Does anyone else get the sense that in 5 years the Trib will only live on the web?

by KevinFreitas on 9/9/2008 @ 6:48am
Better rev the Tacoma Blogosphere and the indy media up to take up the slack.

That's partially why we're here. Though not to replace the paper by any means. They contribute to FeedTacoma and hence the local blogging scene but I'm always about more perspectives not less. I ache for all the employees and hope someone over there finds a method that'll work in these modern, digital times.

@Crenshaw: Could very well be. Producing and carting paper around just seems like a pointless process that only eats up trees and petroleum just so people can be "comfortable" holding and thumbing through a physical copy. E-ink and digital delivery all the way baby!

by jenyum on 9/9/2008 @ 9:35am
Pretty soon we're going to be left with no local news, just occasional dribbles from the PI.

I love the blogosphere, but most of us are hobbyists and really can't pick up the slack. Nor can we afford to print for a wider audience. Very few bloggers take on news in any real sense, and when they do they usually source their writing from news outlets.

Local businesses really aren't willing to pay for online ads, and print ads are just too expensive. The money to support reporting has to come from somewhere and if there just isn't enough of a market locally, we'll see more and more generic nationwide content in our news outlets.

E-ink and digital delivery is great up to a point, but if no one is willing to pay for digital content, eventually local coverage will fall off as broader content is added to attract more hits/advertising. There are only about 200,000 people in the Tacoma area, and if local businesses won't support local information sources, they will go away.

Can Tacoma support the TNT? Will Tacoma support the TNT? I don't know.

by Erik on 9/9/2008 @ 10:09am
I love the blogosphere, but most of us are hobbyists and really can't pick up the slack.

True. But nature abhors a vacuum. The blogosphere tends to fill in where the msm leaves off and will likely do so in the future.

Of course, there is the Tacoma Weekly and Weekly Volcano who seem to be doing pretty well.

Tacomans are hungry for Tacoma related content and someone is going to give it to them one way or another.

by Erik on 9/9/2008 @ 10:29am
Three papers are cutting back.

Hours are being reduced as well:

Olympia, Tacoma, Tri-Cities papers offer buyouts


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.

"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.


by jenyum on 9/9/2008 @ 11:00am
True. But nature abhors a vacuum. The blogosphere tends to fill in where the msm leaves off and will likely do so in the future.

Meh. Not really. I mean, the blogosphere likes to jump on things and be first, but it's only the best and most well-funded (with paid staff) that do real investigative reporting with any consistency. I don't mean looking up a newspaper article, writing about a government news release or linking to something, but actually making phone calls, asking questions, getting multiple sources and (god forbid ) waiting a day or two until you have the whole story. At which point, probably a blog has already beaten the subject into the ground.

Admittedly the main stream media does little true reporting these days, but public disinterest has definitely hastened this trend.

I'm not talking about any particular blog when I say this, (especially our local blogs) but as a whole the blogosphere just not a consistent way to get your news. It's a great place to go for opinion pieces, conversations, and lots and lots of interesting ideas, but there are few blogs I'd quote authoritatively. And I'm a blogger. So I don't say that lightly.

by Erik on 9/9/2008 @ 11:35am
Here's David Goldstein's of HA (largest liberal blogger in Washington State) view on the issue. Looks like the cutbacks are across all of the msm.

The Seattle P-I’s Neal Modie. The Everett Herald’s Jim Haley. The Columbian’s Gregg Herrington. KING-5 News’ Robert Mak. The AP’s Dave Ammons. The Seattle Times’ Ralph Thomas and David Postman.

And that’s only a partial list of Washington state political reporters who have quit the business this year alone. And in a busy, presidential election year at that.

Our state’s news industry is beginning to look like one of those post-apocolyptic movies: a desolate, pockmarked, media landscape, largely devoid of people (especially those journalist/heroes of my own post-Watergate youth)… a chaotic scenario in which bloggers like me find ourselves playing the role of Mad Max.

Well… I may be mad, but I’m not crazy, and as sorry as I am to see the sorry state of political reporting in our region, I also see a tremendous opportunity to step into the void left by the departure of Postman and his colleagues, and help take independent media to the next level. That’s why I am so excited to announce that Josh Feit is joining the HA team to lead our HA’08 Election Coverage from now through the November election..


I love the blogosphere, but most of us are hobbyists and really can't pick up the slack.

You are right of course. But the blogosphere and the small media most likely will pick up a larger percentage of local content. Alternatively, it won't get picked up at all.

by Twisty on 9/9/2008 @ 11:35am
This is what happens to a business when it is unable (or unwilling) to adapt to a new environment: it dies.

The TNT has been in trouble for a long time, and yet I see no significant change in its product or in how it markets that product to consumers. They are basically just continuing to do the same thing they have always done, hoping that things will somehow get better.

The TNT is a dinosaur, and appears to be owned and operated by dinosaurs. I offer that its demise is not only inevitable -- it is also deserved.

by NineInchNachos on 9/9/2008 @ 11:50am
some corporations are allowed to die, some corporations get government bail outs. all who you know I suppose.

by jenyum on 9/9/2008 @ 11:51am
Call the TNT a dinosaur if you wish, but it's not like "new media" has it all figured out. Someone has to pay for people to sit and do that all day, too, and it's not as rosy as you might think.

Someone passed this link along to me today and I think it's a pretty good description of what happens in the wonderful world of blogging for advertising dollars.


If you are dooce.com or you are the biggest name in Washington State political blogs then (maybe) you can live off it. But just providing good content doesn't make you money, and trying to make money takes away from the content.

I'm not blaming the TNT for not being able to make money in an arena in which even national sites struggle.

by NineInchNachos on 9/9/2008 @ 12:05pm
we're seeing a decentralization. people now have their own tools to get the news out. If you have something to say or have a thought needs to get known, you publish it or you send it to somebody you trust to publish it.

the viral 'sarah palin' letter is a perfect example of information traveling without a dedicated host.

information is free to do what it wants and humans are powerless to stop it.

by NineInchNachos on 9/9/2008 @ 12:07pm
information is alive. the tnt only offers slavery to her information.

by Dave_L on 9/9/2008 @ 12:10pm
What jenyum said.

by jenyum on 9/9/2008 @ 12:16pm
"Free" as in "free to be you and me?" or "free" as in no money changing hands? All of this fabulous information gathering, this is performed solely by the people in their spare time? Because the people who run Crosscut (who were instrumental in passing on the letter) get paid. RR: I suppose your employer has enslaved your artistic skills, but I haven't seen you complain.

I know all of you have day jobs. I know most of you support working artists, musicians, local businesses, etc. I don't see that writing/news gathering ought to fall into some special category simply because it is also something one could theoretically do as a hobby.

by Erik on 9/9/2008 @ 12:17pm
I'm not blaming the TNT for not being able to make money in an arena in which even national sites struggle.

I am not sure any blame has to be assigned. The nature of news distribution is just changing.

Also, even msm news is accessible for free on google news:


Stock quotes are free as other sources of information.

Thus, the unique value msm news papers can offer is being reduced.

Then there is the environmental push to reduce shopping bags that may be reducing people's willingness to buy so much paper made of pulp.

This trend, for better or worse, is only going to accelerate.

by morgan on 9/9/2008 @ 12:26pm
Unlike Kevin, I like my pulp in the morning and I would be willing to pay twice as much, if the quality were there. Look how many people across the world have subscriptions to the NY Times. Right now, the McClatchy Company seems to be unable or unwilling to change the course of its ship. I hope they figure it out soon.

by morgan on 9/9/2008 @ 12:30pm
Side note: has anyone noticed a similarity in logos?

by Illrigger on 9/9/2008 @ 12:33pm
You're missing a few points here:

1. A rep of the MSM is a paid profession, staffed by professionals with educations and backed by institutions of repute. This allows them to be able to take the time to get information, get access to resources that most people can't, to understand how to make use of that information, and to have a strong organization to back them up when they do so. Bloggers may or may not have any of those things.

2. There are consequences when a MSM reporter gets something wrong - they can lose their job. There's no accountability when you blog as long as you get some of the facts right. When Kevin Rose gets 50% of his facts right on the new iPod, nobody questions the other 50% - in fact, they applaud him for the parts he DID get right! That's not reliable enough to replace the MSM, that's a joke, and it's all too common on the web.

3. NiNachos points to the Sarah Palin viral letter. However, that only illustrates a point - we don't know where viral information comes from, have no idea of its accuracy, or what tampering has been done to it, and nobody has ANY SEMBLANCE of accountability for it. That makes it suspect at best. For all you know, I could have made it. There have been TONS of viral videos that look legit, but have turned out to be fakes, often made and distributed by corporations or entities who stand to benefit from them. Information may be alive, but that doesn't make it ACCURATE - c.f. "Wikiality"

4. No everyone has internet access. You can blog all day long, but even if everyone in Tacoma that has internet access read it, you'd be reaching maybe 60% of the people here. And there's no one site that everyone in Tacoma goes to, so forget even that level of saturation.

I could go on, but the point is that blogs are great supplement to MSM, but MSM has a needed place in society. The loss of the TNT would be the loss of a real professional news source for a large number of Pierce County residents. Bash it all you want, but if it goes, Tacoma will suffer.

by NineInchNachos on 9/9/2008 @ 12:36pm
in the future we will ask god for the information we require to operate as informed citizens. I do not speak of the superstitious apparition, but of the massive ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE being built by google right now. God will know everything about everything. How? He will read everybody's email (gmail is doing this as we communicate), he will have read every book in creation (google books), and he will be reading every packet of information as it is being written (google apps)... you may think god is smart. Not so, he's not any smarter than a database query. Everyone will have complete access to god. Everyone will have the tools to know Everything about Anything. Man will be enveloped into an information singularity and at last the UNIVERSE WILL KNOW ITSELF, which will be ultimately revealed as the purpose for life the universe and everything.

but that is another story.

meanwhile we are stuck in the space/time we were dealt. the magic of decentralization is that it is the masses of the world assembling/presenting information for consumption 24hrs a day by whatever means necessary... operating in spurts of idle recreation time. You may laugh at this, but when we're talking exponential quantities 'it adds up' to a greater resource than any one moral individual can muster.

by NineInchNachos on 9/9/2008 @ 12:45pm
people will rise up and lament the loss of 'accuracy' as if this had any importance. What is true? What is false? Who cares? Nobody! Polar bears are dying because of global warming. There are people who cling to reality and feel bad, and then there are those like Sarah Palin who live in imaginary worlds where polar bears live in rainbows and eat smurfs. Information like the free market will 'self-correct' one way or the other. Sure no human being may survive the self correction, but that's another matter entirely.

by NineInchNachos on 9/9/2008 @ 12:47pm
Time is relative. is truth any greater force than time?

by NineInchNachos on 9/9/2008 @ 12:49pm
people don't pay $ to get aids. why should you pay $ to get ideas?

by thriceallamerican on 9/9/2008 @ 12:53pm
Like Morgan, I'm still a big fan of the print edition. And I think one area the TNT needs to cast an eye towards for cost-cutting is the comics page.

1) Kill the "daily color comics" crap. For daily comics, it's all paint-by-numbers anyway, if there's anything that relies on color for artistry it's going to happen on Sunday anyway. It's gotta cost a lotta extra money to always print this stuff in color, otherwise the whole paper would be color. (And by the way, why NOT go all b&w? Seems to work for the Gray Lady...)

2) Kill off the old-timers, who presumably cost more to syndicate. We finally got rid of Mary Worth and BC, now it's time to do the same to Blondie, Family Circus, Garfield, Frank & Ernest. And good God, now that it's all in echo chamber mode, can we finally please kill off For Better or For Worse???? Then we can bring in some new (hopefully cheaper) blood and maybe offer some comics that will give people new incentive to pick up at least one section of the paper every day.

by Illrigger on 9/9/2008 @ 12:54pm
OK, a question for you: why do you CARE that polar bears are dying? Are they required to provide you with any sustenance, anything you need to survive?

Truth be known, we don't give a CRAP about the planet, the polar bears, the sea cows. We care about US. If you want to complain about global climate change (it hasn't been called global warming for some time now), then at least own up the the real reason you care - because PEOPLE will die because of it, not some animal you've only seen behind a sheet of glass.

You say information "self-corrects". Consider that last couple paragraphs an example of it.

by NineInchNachos on 9/9/2008 @ 1:01pm

i CARE because i am a polar bear.

yours must be a lonely path. Why do you hate women?

by NineInchNachos on 9/9/2008 @ 1:25pm

"We're very excited to bring the entire history of the Tacoma Daily Index to the Web," said Sound Publishing President Manfred Tempelmayr. "Projects of this scale are extremely time and resource intensive and we're thrilled to partner with Google to make this available to our readers."


Tacoma Daily Index... est. 1886 right?

by OddTodd on 9/9/2008 @ 1:49pm
the index dates back to 1890 (but it doesn't feel a day over 35).

here's a weird twist to this discussion . . .

this morning, someone stopped by my office re: an article i wrote on friday. she read about the article online (on exit 133), and stopped by the office for a hard-copy of the paper. apparently, she had difficulty printing it online, said she wasn't very tech savvy, and wanted the print edition. so i guess this is some sort of weird reverse online-to-print business model? i'm confused . . . --TODD

by Erik on 9/9/2008 @ 2:21pm
I would like to see the Tribune survive.

They have some challenges ahead of them though.

If they cut back on local content any further and make the paper more generic, they are going to continue to see circulation drop not unlike a restaurant that tries to cut costs by eliminating popular items on the menu.

There are consequences when a MSM reporter gets something wrong - they can lose their job.

I think there is still a place for a professional journalist in a world of rising amateurs where there is no barrier to providing information anymore.

Given the increasing downward price pressure on information, it is probably going to require putting out much more content out by each reporter with a higher perceived interest value in each article.

The best outcome would be having the Tribune break apart and form a Tacoma News Tribune dedicated to covering Tacoma and have a yet smaller crew move back into the city.

by NineInchNachos on 9/9/2008 @ 2:49pm
I'd like to see more nudity in the tribune

by NineInchNachos on 9/9/2008 @ 2:52pm
maybe they could boost sales by pushing the United States into a war against Spain?

by NineInchNachos on 9/9/2008 @ 3:17pm
when the rain clouds gather overhead I like to retreat into my imagination--remembering those carefree days...

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 9/9/2008 @ 4:48pm
the Tacoma Nudes Tribune?

by Mofo from the Hood on 9/9/2008 @ 10:07pm
This Just In: Most paper in common use is made from trees. Trees are a renewable resource. The paperless society paradigm is amusing but not entirely practical. Doubt it? Try living one day without any product made from paper. Take an inventory of your everyday habitat and note every item around you that contains paper. There is no shortage of paper. Scientists are even working daily to develop faster growing trees with minimal bark. Some of those crops which are the diameter of bamboo are visible from I-5 near Mt. St. Helens.

Another Well Publicized Fact: Most newspapers produce stories at an 8th grade educational level. Beyond that level the newspapers would lose most of its readers.

Is there a correlation between the contemporary overuse of pictorial media and the lack of interest in verbal media? The image has quite nearly supplanted the written word. One probable consequence: Lack of interest in newspapers.

by Erik on 10/5/2008 @ 1:36am
5 more loses:

Farewell to five TNT veterans, who’ll be sorely missed

Published: October 5th, 2008 12:30 AM

On Friday, our newsroom said goodbye to five staff members who took a buyout offer The News Tribune made to employees last month. We’d have preferred not to lose the decades of experience they brought to bear on our news report. And we will miss them as colleagues and friends.


by NineInchNachos on 10/5/2008 @ 7:46am
man that's depressing. at least we still have vopel eh?