Media News

McClatchy's Kansas City Star offers buyouts

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Kansas City Star is offering 20 weeks of pay to employees who leave the newspaper after working there for 20 uninterrupted years or more, making it the latest U.S. paper to cut jobs amid ongoing declines in advertising sales.

The Star, owned by McClatchy Co, is limiting the program to fewer than 4 percent of its nearly 1,400 employees, according to an article on its Web site.

All divisions, including about 300 newsroom staff, are eligible, Publisher Mac Tully told Reuters in an interview.

“It is a changing business model,” he said. “The landscape is changing, and we have to change with that.”

The decision came from the Star and not from parent company McClatchy, Tully said. The Star’s decision is not part of any wider McClatchy action at other papers, a company spokeswoman said.

The paper does not have a minimum number of jobs that it wants to cut, and will not resort to layoffs if it determines that not enough people left voluntarily.

Tully called the program a “voluntary transition opportunity,” and said the paper was not using the word “buyout.”

Eligible employees have until December 19 to apply, and would leave by January 11, 2008, the paper reported. Tully said no divisions would be disproportionately affected.

Earlier on Wednesday, New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller said the paper had frozen hiring and was laying off several people in its newsroom.

Other papers that have had buyouts and layoffs this year include the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News, run in a joint agreement by Gannett Co Inc and MediaNews Group, as well as Hearst Corp’s Houston Chronicle and Tribune Co’s Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun, Chicago Tribune and other papers.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel parent Journal Communications said in October it planned to cut the equivalent of 100 full-time jobs by the end of the year through attrition and a voluntary buyout program.

Most U.S. papers are losing subscribers and advertising revenue, even as their Web sites -- still a small part of their operations -- are gaining both.

McClatchy shares closed up 15 cents, or 1.09 percent, at $13.87 on the New York Stock Exchange. Shares have fallen 66.5 percent in the past year.

Reporting by Robert MacMillan; Editing by Toni Reinhold