Burying the announcement at 2:21 on a Friday, of course. Here's Peter Bhatia, executive editor:
The Oregonian on Friday announced a voluntary buyout program. All newsroom staff and selected business-side employees were included.
"Our financial situation remains critical, and will require, among other measures, further staff reductions before the end of this year," said interim Publisher Patrick Stickel in a letter to employees announcing the buyout. The offer gives employees two weeks of pay for each year of service, plus health care for an equivalent period, capped at six months. Employees who have accumulated unused sick time also will be compensated for that time.
The Oregonian has taken a series of steps over the past two years to reduce staff in the wake of the economic downturn. Earlier this year, the company announced pay cuts and a pension freeze. Additionally, the company announced its longstanding job security pledge for full-time employees would end Feb. 5, 2010. "If a significant number of you accept the offer it could minimize or eliminate the need for layoffs down the line," Stickel said in his letter to employees.
The Oregonian is the largest daily news outlet in the Northwest, reaching more than 700,000 readers in print every day and more than a million unique viewers through OregonLive.com every month. The Oregonian has about 850 full- and part-time employees. All major newspapers in the U.S. have significantly reduced staff through layoffs and buyouts as the recession ate into advertising revenues. The Oregonian is owned by Advance Publications.
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