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Washington Times in sacking rampage

The Washington Times will lay off at least 40 percent of its 370 employees, as part of a major overhaul that will also see the paper distributed for free at some locations.

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Times president and publisher Jonathan Slevin said the cuts were part of a strategy to transform the paper into a 21st century media company.

“We have developed plans to secure our position and advance our vital role in an evolving media marketplace and through challenging economic times,” he said in a statement.

Acknowledging the tough times hitting the media industry and economy as a whole, Slevin said future plans had to be constrained by “current marketplace realities.”

“In this regard, the company is aggressively working to achieve efficiencies of scale that must include significant staff reduction of its 370 personnel.”

The Politico news website reported that the figure represents around 40 percent of the Washington Times workforce.

The announcement also included a new circulation model, under which the paper will be distributed for free to “targeted audiences in the branches of the federal government as well as at other key institutions.”

Home or office delivery will be available at a “premium price,” while single-copy sales at newspaper boxes and retailers will continue unchanged.

The Miami Herald meanwhile said it was eliminating 24 posts worldwide and reducing some newspaper production working hours in a bid to survive the economic crisis.

“The move is part of our ongoing effort to ride out this unprecedented period of economic turmoil,” publisher David Landsberg wrote in an e-mail to newspaper staff.

“While we are seeing some signs of improvement on the horizon, we expect operating conditions to remain challenging through much of 2010.”

Owned by US newspaper publisher McClatchy Company, The Miami Herald had already dismissed 175 staff in March.

US newspapers are grappling with declining print advertising revenue, falling circulation and the migration of readers to free news online, while several major US publishers have declared bankruptcy.