The Arizona Republic, the state’s largest newspaper, cut more than 100 jobs on Tuesday and Wednesday as part of massive workforce reduction announced by its parent company in October.
Sixty-eight workers were laid off at the 118-year-old publication and its Spanish-language sister newspaper La Voz, said president and publisher John Zidich in a company e-mail. In addition to the layoffs, Zidich said 29 workers will leave voluntarily with severance packages and 15 employees were placed in other positions.
Zidich didn’t return phone calls Wednesday after a company spokeswoman referred questions to his office.
The newspaper reported on its Web site that the move reduced payroll by 10 percent, but affected only 5 percent its approximately 2,000 employees.
The cuts are the paper’s third round of job reductions this year. The Republic laid off 37 employees in September and 27 workers took buyouts in August.
The newspaper, founded in 1890 as The Arizona Republican, has more than 361,000 subscribers on weekdays and more than 463,000 on Sundays, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.
“The reductions are based solely on the very tough economic conditions facing the country and our company,” Zidich wrote in the memo. “The employees who lost their jobs served this company very well, some for many years. It is sad to see them leave and we wish them well.”
The cuts are part of a 10 percent company-wide workforce reduction that the paper’s McLean, Va.-based parent, Gannett Co., announced in October.
Gannett, founded in 1906, owns 85 daily newspapers, including USA Today and about 900 non-daily newspapers, according to its Web site.
It’s unclear how many cuts came from the Republic’s newsroom, but some reports put the early tally at more than 20.
Several mid-level managers were affected in the paper’s Southeast Valley newspaper operations. The Republic eliminated a general manager position, sources at the Republic said. Some editors that oversee Mesa, Gilbert and Scottsdale were also let go.
The Gannett cuts are probably the largest in the industry in recent times, said Randy Bennett, senior vice president of business development at the Newspaper Association of America.
The NAA said online and print advertising revenues sank 18.11 percent in third quarter of this year. That’s a significant drop from the negative 7.4 percent during the same period in 2007.
“Certainly on the financial side, the news is not good,” Bennett said. “With the economic downturn and some of our key customers, particularly on the classified (advertising) side, feeling a lot of pain, a lot of those advertising dollars have dried up and that’s had a significant impact on the newspaper business.”
In October, The Tribune announced a major shift in strategy in which the newspaper will withdraw coverage and distribution from Scottsdale and Tempe to concentrate on Mesa, Gilbert and other parts of the East Valley. The move resulted in eliminating 142 jobs — about 40 percent of its overall staff.
In January, the paper will move to four-day-a-week free distribution in the cities it will continue to serve Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert and Queen Creek. The number of papers distributed in those cities will be increased as it is eliminated in Tempe and Scottsdale.
The newspaper also will provide news coverage of its focus communities seven days a week on its Web site.
The latest reductions at Gannett follow a 3 percent cut announced in August. Both cuts are separate from a 5 percent trim from USA Today’s newsroom announced Nov. 24.
The Associated Press contributed to this report