Publisher Mac Tully (right) announced the layoffs in a somber meeting of the newsroom staff: "We have had a very challenging 2008."
The newspaper, controlled by Dean Singleton's MediaNews Group, said it was laying off nine newsroom staffers and an undisclosed number of employees from other departments. The Guild reports that 17 of its members at the Merc are losing their jobs — nine people from news, six from advertising support and two from marketing. The number of non-Guild employees being laid off was not available.
According to the Guild, management was planning to notify those who would be laid off last night (Thursday). The Guild said management would consider reducing the number of layoffs if there are members who will volunteer to reduce their hours and work in a job-share arrangement. No word yet on whether anyone volunteered.
The newsroom will number about 155 after the layoffs, according to a story on the Merc's Web site.
Singleton, in a speech in Sweden on June 9, said that 19 of the top 50 U.S. newspapers are in the red. But Merc Editor Dave Butler said in Wednesday's staff meeting that the Merc is not among the money-losers. Tully said the Merc will end the fiscal year June 30 with a profit, according to former Merc business writer Matt Marshall's VentureBeat blog.