The New York Times is restructuring its video unit, which means it will offer buyouts. The Times did not specify how many jobs this could impact.
Times staffers received a memo from executive editor Dean Baquet on Tuesday, explaining that the division will undergo “restructuring as well as expansion.”
“For some months now we have been rethinking and refocusing our efforts in video. The culmination of that work is an ambitious new vision for both our journalism and our business on all platforms. This will inevitably lead to some staff restructuring as well as expansion,” Baquet said. “Toward that end, we will take two steps. We will do some targeted hiring to add the kinds of deep experience, news judgment and creativity we believe essential to take our video to a higher level. And we will also offer a buyout in video open to anyone on the staff — whether they are excluded or in the Guild — effective Tuesday.”
Just as in the not-so-distant past, the Times will consider all offers to take the buyout and will have the discretion to turn down any applicants whom it deems “essential” to the company. Last October, the newspaper cut 100 newsroom jobs in order to reduce costs so it could invest in its “digital future.”
Baquet addressed the question of layoffs, noting he has “no way of knowing whether layoffs in the department will take place” at this time.
The news follows rumblings in July of a restructuring of the video division. At the time, the executive editor said Bruce Headlam, who led the unit, would move to another beat. Rebecca Howard, the former general manager and business leader of video, left the company.
Assistant managing editor for audience development Alex MacCallum took the reins to analyze the structure of the video division, while Steve Duenes, a seasoned Times editor who serves as graphics director, took Headlam’s job. Zander Baron, director of video operations, filled in for Howard temporarily.
The shake-up has followed less-than-stellar advertising revenues. Last week, the Times posted a 2.1 percent decline in third-quarter ad revenues to $135.4 million. Total revenues for the period edged up 0.7 percent to $367.4 million, as the company swung to a $9.4 million profit.
Although cost-cutting and an uptick in digital subscribers helped the Times, the company still struggled to improve on display advertising, which includes native ads, display, banners and video. For the third quarter, revenue from display fell 2.9 percent to $121.9 million, and for the nine months, it slid 5 percent to $393.9 million.
Mark Thompson, president and chief executive officer, underscored the importance of digital to the company in the face of declining print revenue, adding that he expects ad revenues to dip in the midsingle digits in the fourth quarter. Digital advertising revenues, however, are expected to rise in the midsingle digits.
“Moving forward, our focus remains on rapidly growing our digital business and maintaining the long-term strength and viability of our print operation,” the ceo noted.