The New York Times has made no secret about its intention to shift its business to digital — it just didn’t spell out how it would accomplish that.
On Wednesday, the newspaper’s executive team circulated a memo revealing its plan to offer buyouts to employees who have been newsroom staff for three years or more. This included staffers belonging to the News Guild, as well as nonunion workers.
“We are looking for volunteers, for people who might see this offering fitting in with their long-term plans and working to their financial advantage,” the memo said.
The Times would have the option to deny applicants if their jobs were “too critical” to the mission of the paper. Staff working in the video, graphics and digital design departments are not eligible to take a buyout, the note added.
The buyouts come at time when the organization said it is investing more than “$50 million” in international digital expansion over the next three years.
Sources inside The Times have expressed unease in light of news reports last month indicating the company is planning a round of layoffs that will be on par with prior year cuts in the range of 100 jobs.
Earlier this month, chief executive officer Mark Thompson rolled out the company’s strategy to turn its coverage toward visual journalism for growth at the firms digital NewFront presentation in New York.
“What’s the future of media? It’s great content,” Thompson said. “Our business is changing at the speed of light. We don’t just want to keep pace, we want to set the pace….The future of media is visual.”
In 2015, The Times posted a 0.6 percent dip in revenues to $1.58 billion. Net income expanded 89.9 percent to $63.2 million, or 38 cents a diluted share.
In a memo in February, executive editor Dean Baquet noted the paper’s declining print revenues and offered: “We need to develop a strategic plan for what The New York Times should be, and determine how to apply our timeless values to a new age.”