Largest Local Newspaper In Virginia Seeks To Cut Nearly 10% Of Staff – Forbes

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The Virginian-Pilot, the largest local daily newspaper in Virginia, announced today that it was seeking to reduce its staff by nearly 10%.

The Norfolk-based newspaper, known locally as The Pilot, serves much of southeastern Virginia and northeast North Carolina. It has a Sunday circulation of around 130,000.

Pilot Media, the paper’s parent company, will try to achieve the reduction by easing out its most senior, and therefore most expensive, employees.

Publisher Pat Richardson told staffers today that the company would offer buyouts to employees with 25 years of service.

About 70 people qualify for a buyout, Richardson said. If not enough take the company’s offer, there will be layoffs.

The goal is to reduce the staff of 543 by less than 10%, she said.

The Pilot could lose its signature cachet: The newspaper has won numerous national design awards for its creative covers, layouts and artwork.

But even that department is threatened: The company is investigating the outsourcing of its news design and production, according to Richardson.

One would almost think that there is a single layoffs script that gets passed from local newspaper publisher to local newspaper publisher throughout the U.S.

The Pilot is making the inevitable “pivot to digital.” Richardson said the newspaper would “try to hold on to those elements of design that make us who we are.”

But company leaders see digital as the future.

The Pilot’s digital revenue has been growing, the publisher said, and Pilot Media is profitable, she emphasized.

“But our print revenues are shrinking at a faster pace than our expenses are,” she said.

Richardson said The Pilot will “continue to invest in content and in sales” and in digital. The latest staff reduction is, she said, a “re-balancing” of the media outlet.

Today’s news marks the latest in a long line of cuts from management. At the time of the 2008 recession, The Pilot cut 10% as well, but that meant losing 125 employees from a staff of 1,260. Three years later, the staff was down to half that figure, around 640, after yet more cuts.

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