Another round of buyouts is coming to The Boston Globe as the newspaper seeks to reinvent its strategy and coverage priorities in advance of a move to new downtown offices.
The buyouts, announced in a newsroom memo from Globe editor Brian McGrory, were prompted by a desire to fix the newspaper’s balance sheet:
The Globe’s numbers aren’t as good as our words (or photos, videos, and graphics). So we need to take down costs across the company, an exercise that virtually all other news organizations in the nation, legacy and digital-only, are focused on right now. Other parts of this building are doing this as well.
The staff reduction is the third in as many years to hit The Boston Globe. In October, The Globe culled more than 20 employees from the newspaper through buyouts and layoffs. And in 2014, the newspaper offered buyouts to an unspecified number of employees, according to emails obtained by Poynter.
The buyouts, which were reported first by Northeastern University professor Dan Kennedy, will afford Globe journalists two weeks of pay for every year of service, capped at one year’s pay.
In his memo, McGrory referenced the Globe’s pending move from its Morrissey Boulevard headquarters to downtown Boston and a burgeoning effort to reimagine the newspaper as factors that will disrupt the Globe’s current routine.
Everybody in this room should be prepared for their jobs to change in ways that may be significant. Change is as exhausting as it is exhilarating, and some people have had enough. We respect that, and are offering this enticement now so we can all be prepared going forward. To be very clear here: This will be the last buyout before the move downtown.
The buyouts come as The Boston Globe is enjoying a measure of Hollywood fame for crusading investigative work that exposed rampant sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and formed the basis for the Oscar-winning film “Spotlight.” President Obama referenced Globe reporters by name in his final speech to the White House Correspondents’ Association this weekend as an aspirational example of quality journalism.
But the Globe’s journalistic success isn’t confined to the silver screen. Last month, The Boston Globe won two Pulitzer Prizes, for feature photography and commentary. It marked the third consecutive year The Globe was awarded journalism’s highest honor by the Pulitzer Prizes.
Meanwhile, the owner of The Boston Globe, billionaire Red Sox owner John Henry, has presided over a company on a mission to build standalone publications focused on specific coverage areas.
Here’s McGrory’s memo:
Yet again in the world’s worst-kept secret category, we plan to put another buyout on the table, probably by the end of this week. These things aren’t really meant to be a secret. They just take a while to come together, despite our vast experience with them.
There’s no complicated math involved. There’ll be two weeks for every year of service, with the package capped at a year’s pay. Everyone in the newsroom will get an offer. The company reserves the right, as with all prior buyouts, to reject anyone who puts in for it.
To the obvious question of why, as in, why again, why so soon after the prior buyout of last autumn, the answer is pretty straightforward: The Globe’s numbers aren’t as good as our words (or photos, videos, and graphics). So we need to take down costs across the company, an exercise that virtually all other news organizations in the nation, legacy and digital-only, are focused on right now. Other parts of this building are doing this as well.
This particular buyout is being offered as the Globe arrives at an inflection point, which is why I’m hopeful that it will work well for a portion of our room.
First, we’re moving downtown come January 1. While this is great for the organization, on a personal level, commutes will be different, rituals disrupted, and parking will no longer be free and easy. Second, we’re undertaking a reinvention initiative that will in all likelihood lead to a profoundly different approach to a good part of our work. Everybody in this room should be prepared for their jobs to change in ways that may be significant. Change is as exhausting as it is exhilarating, and some people have had enough. We respect that, and are offering this enticement now so we can all be prepared going forward. To be very clear here: This will be the last buyout before the move downtown.
For those who plan to stay, please know this: There are fascinating times ahead. We can curse the economic problems that have beset the entire industry, and guilty as charged: I’ve done more than enough of that myself. But at the same time, we can and should feel privileged to be part of any solutions.
Between a new printing facility in Taunton that will produce papers far sharper than anything in our history, to new offices downtown that will put us in the flow of this city, to the surge in readership on bg.com, the success in digital subscriptions, and the consistently amazing journalism that you produce day after day in the face of ferocious industry forces, there’s not a newsroom in this nation better positioned to succeed than ours. None of it is easy. All of it is vital – and noble. We, meaning you, can do this. You already are.
I’ll be in the Winship Room today at 11, 2, and 6 to talk a bit more, take your questions, and hear what’s on your mind.