By Rachel Sklar
| Poynter.orgThe Philadelphia Inquirer will eliminate 68 to 71 of its 393 newsroom jobs, according to the New York Times. Inquirer staff writer Bob Fernandez reports that the announcement was made by owner Philadelphia Media Holdings L.L.C. yesterday, following months of speculation about upcoming layoffs. The cutbacks will reportedly save about $6.8 million a year and will lead to additional restructuring of beats and coverage areas to suit the reduced news staff. Inquirer editor William K. Marimow told Fernandez that today’s cutbacks were smaller than earlier proposals that had called for cutting over 100 jobs.
It’s been a rocky few months for the Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News, both of which were among the first of Knight Ridder’s newspapers to hit the auction block when the company was acquired by McClatchy Co. in March of 2006. The two dailies, their website and sister properties were purchased in June by PMH, an investment group made up of PR mogul Brian Tierney, luxury home builder Bruce Toll and additional local investors, in a deal valued at $562 million. As of September, 2006, the company had a total of 2,461 employees. Since the sale, both papers have struggled with low advertising sales and declining circulation, and by October Tierney was calling layoffs “unavoidable.” Additional labor issues arose in December, when contract negotiations between management and 10 of the company’s 12 labor unions became heated enough to spark a possible strike, the first work stoppage at both papers in 21 years. At the eleventh hour, union members voted 498-69 to approve the new three-year contract, which includes no pay increase in the first year.