Longtime employees of The Oklahoman are being offered early retirement packages as the newspaper begins cost-cutting measures that could affect 150 positions.
David Thompson, the newspaper's publisher, said a downsizing of The Oklahoman's work force of about 1,100 people will be completed by the end of October, in two stages: retirements and a reduction in force. Thompson and other senior executives met Wednesday afternoon to discuss early retirement with 102 veteran employees, who are at least 55 years old and have worked for the newspaper for 15 years or longer. The 102 employees have until Sept. 24 to decide whether to take the early retirement offers. Then, starting in early October, The Oklahoman will begin layoffs across The Oklahoma Publishing Co.'s media division, OPUBCO Communications Group. In total, about 150 positions are expected to be eliminated within the next two months, Thompson said. Both voluntary and involuntary reductions will include employee severance packages. He described the pending cutbacks as "painful,” and the company, which has been controlled by the Gaylord family since 1903, "is sensitive to the impact they will have on our employees and their families.” But the reductions are necessary to "right-size our costs commensurate with revenue,” Thompson said. Despite a growing economy in Oklahoma City, The Oklahoman is being affected by the same forces that have roiled the newspaper industry, particularly at metropolitan dailies, in recent months. They include: •Traditional media — not just newspapers, but television, radio and magazines — are facing the second worst advertising recession since World War II.
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