NEW YORK (Reuters) - The New York Times Co's namesake paper has frozen new hiring and has cut a small number of newsroom jobs as it tries to rein in spending, according to a memo from Executive Editor Bill Keller to employees on Wednesday.
"As we approach 2008, it is clear that the newsroom is going to have to do even more to tighten spending, and to help the publisher and the Times Company meet the difficult financial challenges facing our industry," Keller wrote in the memo, which Reuters obtained.
The Times is cutting about a dozen support positions and is trimming "a number of" clerical and secretarial jobs, according to the memo.
"This staff reduction does not include any journalists, nor any widespread buyouts, as has happened in the past," Keller wrote in the memo. "We put into place a hiring freeze several weeks ago, and except for those jobs that are critically important to our future ambitions, we will be trying to fill their positions internally."
The paper also plans to "rethink" its coverage priorities and how it uses its space and people in 2008, Keller wrote.
"The cuts affect the New York Times newsroom only and not other papers that the company owns," a Times spokeswoman said.
The company's shares have fallen by about 30 percent in the past 12 months as the Times and its other newspapers, including the Boston Globe and several small dailies throughout the United States, fight a prolonged slump in advertising sales.
Shares fell further on Wednesday after Bank of America analyst Joe Arns cut his rating on the shares to "sell" from "neutral," saying that luxury advertising, which accounts for nearly a third of the Times's national ad revenue, could fall if the U.S. economy experienced a recession.
The Times also is vulnerable to weakness in the financial services sector, Arns wrote.
"Although NYT's recent success in growing its national ad revenue is a positive, we wonder if investors have been lulled into a false sense of security," he wrote. "The risk of a broader economic downturn suggests to us that NYT's estimates are most at risk relative to current consensus levels."
New York Times shares were down 29 cents, or 1.72 percent, to $16.54 in late trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
(Editing by Gerald E. McCormick)