Buyouts Come to the Observer

Observer watchers--and staffers--have been awaiting this day, and with feelings closer to dread than glee. Almost every mid-major and major newspaper in the country has been reducing staff by offering buyouts, and the Observer (as far as I know) was one of the last holdouts. It's been able to shrink mainly by attrition, i.e. not filling certain positions when someone leaves, and outsourcing. But Publisher Ann Caulkins sent a memo yesterday announcing that the paper would be eliminating 13 telemarketing positions and reducing the overall staff by less than 5% through voluntary buyouts (basically, certain staffers are offered severance packages to walk away, the paper keeps offering until they get enough takers to cut the the staff by a desired percentage).

There's no word on who will be affected, although close readers will be watching bylines for the next few weeks. Editor Rick Thames said most affected employees would leave by May 30. At other papers, veterans are often the first to be offered buyouts, because they tend to have higher salaries and are already closer to retirement. So that could mean that some familiar names will be gone.

Also, look for the paper to reduce its trim size in the coming days in another cost-cutting move. 

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