Buyouts a week away, USA Today staff abuzz

Estimates are starting to trickle in on the number of USA Today news staffers who have now committed to taking one of 45 buyouts. I’d like to get one more note from someone at the paper before I start passing on some of these numbers.

Quick update: I’ve just heard from someone else. It sounds like between 16 and 20 people have committed to buyouts so far. That means as many as 29 more volunteers are needed by next Wednesday’s deadline.

Management warned layoffs would be possible if it doesn’t get 45 volunteers for one of the biggest newsroom staff reductions underway in Gannett. The trims are equal to about 9% of the 500-employee news department at the nation’s biggest-circulation daily.

“Guessing who’s in or out has become one of the chief pastimes of the news staff,” a tipster wrote yesterday. “Many people are still on the fence regarding their decisions, and we expect there to be a lot who won’t decide till the last minute. Some are waiting on responses to feelers they put out about new jobs. For some people, especially those with 30 or more years in the company, it’s been an easy decision.”

USA Today employees: E-mail estimates that you’re hearing — and tell me where the numbers are coming from. See Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the sidebar, upper right. Or leave a note in the comments section, below.

[Image: The front page of this morning’s USA Today, Newseum; click on the image for a bigger view]

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