Newspapers in peril: NYT ad revs tank, looking to sell Red Sox; Media News forces furloughs

If you though the newspaper industry was in bad shape in 2008, it doesn't look like the battered print industry will do any better in 2009.This morning, the New York Times Co.

If you though the newspaper industry was in bad shape in 2008, it doesn't look like the battered print industry will do any better in 2009.

This morning, the New York Times Co. said that total revenues were down almost 11 percent in the fourth quarter, compared to the same quarter a year earlier. Advertising revenues were down 17.6 percent. (Statement)

The company also said that it has retained Goldman, Sachs & Co. as its financial advisor to explore the possible sale of its 17.75 percent ownership in New England Sports Ventures, which owns the Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park and nearby real estate, as well as 80 percent of New England Sports Network, a cable sports network in the region, and 50 percent of Roush Fenway Racing, a NASCAR team.

Later in the day, word spread that Media News Group, which owns a list of newspapers that serve California's San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley, was implementing mandatory one-week furloughs for all employees. In a memo to employees at the San Jose Mercury News, President and Publisher Mac Tully wrote:

I realize that we are all working hard to overcome this difficult time. I know this action will create a strain on our personal budgets, and unfortunately, I cannot guarantee that a furlough will prevent any further layoffs. However, from what I am hearing across our company… “a brief period without pay is better than many more layoffs.” This is not to trivialize the serious nature of furloughs. Implementing unpaid furloughs is indeed a very serious step. This furlough action is unprecedented for our company. But, I am hopeful that an unpaid furlough will go a long way toward keeping future layoffs, if any, to a minimum.

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