Washington, USA - The Washington Times, the financially troubled daily newspaper owned by the Unification Church of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, said Wednesday that it would significantly cut its staff and drastically change the way it does business and disseminates its news.
A statement from the newspaper’s management did not mention a specific number of layoffs. But staff members who attended a brief hastily announced afternoon meeting said they had received a letter that said the paper would be “reducing its work force by a minimum of 40 percent.” The paper has a 370-person staff.
People inside the newsroom, who did not want to be named because of the uncertainty surrounding their jobs, said employees were told they would be employed for at least 60 more days. The meeting, these people said, was part of the paper’s effort to comply with the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, which requires employers with more than 100 employees to provide 60 days’ notice before mass layoffs and plant closings.
Jonathan Slevin, the paper’s acting president and publisher, said the layoffs were part of a strategy to revamp and re-energize the paper.
In one change, he said, in the first quarter of 2010, The Washington Times will be distributed free in some areas of the nation’s capital. Single copies will still be for sale in newspaper boxes and from retailers. Home delivery will be available “at a premium price.” The areas for free distribution will include branches of the federal government, the statement said.
The paper said it would focus on its “core strengths,” which it identified as “exclusive reporting and in-depth national political coverage, enterprise and investigative reporting, geo-strategic and national security news and cultural coverage based on traditional values.”
A subscription Web site recently begun by the paper, theconservatives.com, will continue, as will the newspaper’s three-hour radio program, “America’s Morning News.”
The financial troubles at The Washington Times stem, in part, from disagreements among the heirs of Mr. Moon, who has stepped down from day-to-day management of his church and business concerns and has divided them among his sons.
Mr. Moon underwrote the newspaper for years as a conservative counterpoint in the nation’s capital. It became a crucial training ground for a generation of conservative journalists.
“The new Washington Times will continue to report Washington-focused news that other journalistic enterprises often overlook,” Mr. Slevin said.