2013 brings layoffs, uncertainty at area newspapers

    With a liquidation deadline looming, the Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia has agreed to begin bargaining on a new contract with the owners of the Inquirer and Daily News, according to a City Paper report. Both parties will begin negotiations tomorrow.

    But Philadelphia’s newspapers aren’t the only ones starting 2013 with a shake-up.

    The Press of Atlantic City announced earlier this week that its parent company, ABARTA Inc., will sell the paper and its related businesses, citing a need for the paper to be run by either a large media group or local ownership. The company’s other entities include soft drink and ethnic frozen food companies.

    News is worse for employees at several Advanced Publications, including the Star-Ledger of Newark, the South Jersey Times and the Express-Times of Easton. All three announced layoffs earlier this week, and the Express-Times will continue its unpaid furloughs.

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    The Ledger will cut 34 people, or about 10 percent of its newsroom. It’s the first-ever large-scale layoff for the paper, which faces lingering effects of Hurricane Sandy, aside from the traditional newspaper woes. The South Jersey Times, which covers Gloucester, Cumberland, Salem and part of Camden counties, will lay off eight full-time and three part-time employees of its staff of 150.

    At the Express-Times, 12 of about 230 positions will be cut from the news, circulation, advertising and production departments.

    Back in Philly, the newspaper guild is now under the leadership of Acting President Howard Gensler. Gross announced Tuesday he’s stepping down from his Daily News gossip columnist position, and will leave his post as president of the guild.

    Gensler’s memo to guild members Thursday says the current contract will remain in effect until a new one is agreed upon. Members now have until next week to consider buyouts that would send them from the papers Feb. 1.

    This post has been updated to include new information from the newspaper guild.

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