Associated Press to slash 10 percent of staff
Agence France-Presse
Published: Thursday November 20, 2008

Print This  Email This

WASHINGTON (AFP) The US news agency the Associated Press plans to reduce its staff by 10 percent by some point in 2009, mostly through attrition, AP president and chief executive Tom Curley said Thursday.

AP spokesman Paul Colford confirmed to AFP that Curley had announced the planned staff reduction during a "town hall" meeting on Thursday of employees of the New York-based news agency.

"The Associated Press, like virtually every business in the world, is defining strategies for operating in these complex and difficult financial times," the company added in a statement.

"All areas and ways of doing business are being reviewed," it said. "The AP, which recently instituted a strategic hiring freeze, may need to reduce staff over the next year.

"If so, it hopes to achieve much of the reduction through attrition," the statement said. "While we are looking for new efficiencies in the way we operate, AP's mission as the essential global news network does not change."

The AP employs 4,100 people, including 3,000 editorial staff, and a 10 percent reduction in staff would amount to more than 400 jobs.

Facing a backlash from some member newspapers over new fees, the US newspaper cooperative last month suspended a planned 2009 rate hike and announced it was reviewing its pricing structure.

The AP, which is owned by 1,500 daily US newspapers, had been facing criticism from some members over the new subscription rates for 2009 and a decision to split its news product into basic and premium services.

US newspapers have been struggling in recent years with steady declines in circulation and a loss of readership and advertising to online media.

Last month, the Tribune Co., owner of the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and other US newspapers, said it had informed the AP it plans to terminate its contract with the news agency in two years.

A number of other US newspapers have made similar threats, but the Tribune was the first major US newspaper chain to serve notice on the AP that it plans to terminate its contract.

AP is one of the world's three major news agencies, along with Agence France-Presse and Reuters.