Mass Layoffs Imminent at Inquirer, Daily News? [UPDATE]

This afternoon at 4 p.m., members of the Newspaper Guild labor union will meet with Philadelphia Media Network, the company that owns the Inquirer, Daily News, and philly.com, at least until Ed Rendell takes over. According to a tip that came in this morning, as many as 50 editorial layoffs are expected, which seems like a suspiciously high number, considering that it would gut the papers. Management is also rumored to be considering forced attrition, i.e. putting their expensive, longtime editors on overnight shifts until they burn out.  Another source says that while layoffs are expected, the number will likely be much less and that buyouts will probably be on the table. PMN spokesman Mark Block was not immediately available for comment.

UPDATE 2/15 2:30 p.m.: This afternoon, Block emailed, “It would be inappropriate to speculate, or comment at this time regarding personnel related announcements that might occur in the future at Philadelphia Media Network.”

UPDATE 2/15 6:30 p.m.: Unfortunate news out of 400 North Broad Street. In its plans to “unify the newsrooms” of its papers and website, Philadelphia Media Network plans to eliminate 37 positions from the editorial and art staffs, from reporters and writers to make-up artists and cartoonists. Before layoffs, there will be a window to join the “voluntary separation program,” aka buyouts, which ends on February 29th. After that, layoffs will begin, based on seniority, meaning that 1998-looking philly.com has no hope of improving, since people who existed before the Internet was relevant will keep their jobs while newer hires are sent pounding.

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