By RICHARD PÉREZ-PEÑA
Published: September 5, 2008
The New York Times will reduce the number of sections printed in the New York metropolitan area, in a move to save money on production, the newspaper’s executives announced on Friday.
The Metro report will become part of the newspaper’s A section, which also contains the International and National reports, and the editorial and Op-Ed pages, on Mondays through Saturdays, and possibly on Sundays, as well.
The Sports report will go into the section that begins with Business Day, on Tuesdays through Fridays, while Sports will remain a separate section on weekends and on Mondays.
Combining sections, which will take effect on Monday, Oct. 6, will not reduce the number of pages devoted to the Metro and Sports reports, the executives said.
It will take away some of the prominence of a stand-alone section, the editors concede, but they argue that the physical arrangement of the paper matters less in an age when a growing proportion of its audience is online. While they said there was some concern that putting New York-centric reporting deep inside other sections would suggest that the paper was losing interest in local news and local readers, research showed that readers care more about the content than its placement.
In a memorandum to the newsroom staff, Bill Keller, the executive editor, wrote that editors were discussing “how we assure, in practice, that we keep the light of Metro burning bright when there is no longer a freestanding Metro section,” including putting more local articles on the front page.
The changes will not affect the national edition of The Times, printed and distributed in other parts of the country.
Newspaper finances have worsened markedly over the last few years, and papers across the country have found various ways to cut costs, including reducing the size and number of their pages and shrinking their staffs.
“Given the business challenges we face, we are constantly looking for ways to reduce costs that do not affect the quality or quantity of the journalism we provide to our readers,” The Times’s publisher, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., wrote in a note to the paper’s staff.
“We are not reducing the space devoted to Metro or Sports news,” he wrote. “This is simply a way to produce the paper more efficiently.”
Simplifying production will allow the paper to reduce labor costs at its printing plant at College Point, in Queens. A spokeswoman for The New York Times company, Catherine J. Mathis, said no jobs would be eliminated, but that overtime expenses would drop significantly.
The paper would not say how much money the moves would save, though some executives, insisting on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter, put the savings at several million dollars a year.
The Times’s printing presses allow for four sections to be printed at one time. On every day of the week except Saturday, the paper has more than four sections, requiring an early press run for some sections, followed by a later run for others. The two sets of sections are then run through machines that collate them into complete papers.
With the newly combined sections, The Times will become a four-section paper Mondays through Wednesdays, allowing it to eliminate the early press run and the collation process on those days. Saturday’s will remain a four-section paper, and there will be more than four on Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays.
The Times began printing stand-alone sections for sports and metropolitan news on certain days of the week in the 1970s and ’80s; in the ’90s, each became a separate section every day of the week.
A PLACE IN THE AUVERGNE
International Herald Tribune
New York Times
Vacation /Business Trip Furnished Apartment in Paris