‘Star-Ledger’ lays off 34 more; Anderson Cooper, the ‘hetero’ years

Star-Ledger headquarters. ()
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Newark's Pulitzer-winning Star-Ledger, the most widely-read daily paper in New Jersey and one of the largest in the country, announced today that it was in the process of laying off 34 employees, including 18 in its 195-person newsroom.

From the paper's own report citing a letter from publisher Richard Vezza:

In a letter posted shortly after 8 a.m. today throughout the newspaper's Newark offices, Vezza called it a difficult day, and blamed the dramatic cuts on continuing financial pressures and the lingering effects of Hurricane Sandy, in an industry already hard hit by a steady decline in readership and sinking ad revenues.

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At the same time, Vezza, in his letter, said the newspaper has been talking with its production unions, whose contracts expire this summer, seeking significant savings in production costs. He said The Star-Ledger was also considering the possibility of outsourcing the printing and packaging of the newspaper.

In an interview this morning, Vezza said he does not foresee any other big changes to the newspaper in the near future.

"This is not a foreshadowing the demise of the paper," Vezza said. "We have no plans for further layoffs."

But the culling will no doubt further fuel speculation, floated in media reports and confirmed by sources to Capital, that the paper's parent company, the Newhouse-owned Advance Publications, may reduce the print frequency of the Ledger or two of its other of its papers in the area, The Jersey Journal and The Staten Island Advance.

The company notoriously implemented such a move last year at one of its crown-jewel titles, the New Orleans Times-Picayune, and has also done so at various other papers it owns around the country.

As for the mood in the Ledger's newsroom today, one insider told Capital that it wasn't clear yet who had been given pink slips, but that employees were trying to speculate based on who appeard to be at their desks.

In other news...

Layoff at Reuters. [Talking Biz News] 

How The New York Times barreled its way into the Journal News offices for an interview on the gun map. [WaPo/Erik Wemple]

Contract troubles at Time Inc. [New York Post]

The Saturday Evening Post is alive and well. [The New York Observer]

Newspaper audience gains. [A.A.M.]

Quote of the day...

By running the loopy Scientology content, the Atlantic has signaled to its upmarket advertisers a disregard for them. I’d love to read the apology memo the Atlantic FedExed to Madison Avenue.

Jack Shafer

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When Anderson Cooper dated girls:

From our inbox...

Media reporters will once again be frozen out of asking questions on News Corp's quarterly earnings call (emphasis their's):

News Corporation will release its 2nd Quarter Fiscal 2013 results on:

Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 4:00 p.m. (New York)
Thursday, February 7, 2013 at 8:00 a.m. (Sydney)

Senior executives will host a call with analysts and media to discuss the results. Reporters are invited to join the call on a listen-only basis.

The latest "news" publication to go behind a paywall? The Weekly World News:

MediaPass, the most powerful and easiest to use online subscription and paywall solution, today announced that it has partnered with the Weekly World News to start monetizing its content via MediaPass’ innovative but simple software. Weekly World News joins thousands of publishers who are using the MediaPass subscription dashboard to implement a pay model for their content in a matter of minutes, powered by one simple line of code.

“We are excited to have a brand like the Weekly World News choose MediaPass to distribute their content in a way that will help them instantly generate revenue, but is also fair to their readers and makes sense within the current paradigm of online publishing and sharing,” said MediaPass CEO Matthew Mitchell. “As a digital-only publication now employing our paywall, there’s no reason they can’t generate the kind of revenue they did at the peak of their print existence.”

"MediaPass is the best paywall solution on the market by far, and the most experienced at subscription monetization. We are extremely excited about the growing revenue opportunity with them as a partner for our digital subscriptions," said Weekly World News CEO Neil McGinness. The Weekly World News was one of the earliest publishers to move to an online-only format, in 2007, after once enjoying a print circulation of 1.2 million. According to online monitoring service Quantcast, the site has approximately double that number in global visitors each month.