No columnists, critics among Sun-Times buyout volunteers

Chicago Sun-Times

Chicago Sun-Times

No columnists or critics were among Sun-Times staffers who have applied for voluntary buyouts at the financially troubled newspaper, sources said Monday.

A total of 14 newsroom employees are believed to have accepted management’s offer to resign in exchange for up to 20 weeks of severance pay. Drastic staff cuts have been ordered to reduce a budget deficit caused by declining revenue and dwindling circulation.

The deadline for accepting the offer was extended to Monday after fewer employees than expected volunteered by the previous deadline February 17.

Jim Kirk, publisher and editor-in-chief of the Sun-Times, declined to comment. But sources said it won’t be known until the end of the week whether layoffs will be necessary to achieve management’s cost-cutting goal for this year. The dollar figure has not been disclosed.

Sun-Times parent company Wrapports LLC initially planned to eliminate 12 to 15 positions through buyouts and layoffs, representing up to 22 percent of the newsroom’s Chicago Newspaper Guild members. That number is likely to increase since none of the paper’s higher-paid columnists and critics appears to be among those who opted for buyouts.