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T-P Buyouts Looming


  "For the first time in memory, there is the possibility of layoffs at The Times-Picayune," said Michael Perlstein, a visiting assistant professor at Loyola University and former veteran T-P reporter. Perlstein declined to elaborate on his comment, which aired on Informed Sources, a weekly reporters' roundtable on WYES-TV. Perlstein said the T-P newsroom staff had dropped to 194 in October, down from 280 before Hurricane Katrina hit on Aug. 29, 2005. Citing unnamed sources in "the newspaper industry," Perlstein also said the T-P hopes to avoid layoffs by finding 25 veteran staffers to take voluntary buyout packages, which include a year's salary. Time may be short. The paper's longtime job security pledge to its dutiful employees ends during the first week of February. Among the latest to head for the exits is political columnist James Gill, whose acerbic wit skewered the colorful characters of New Orleans politics for almost three decades. A criminal justice reporter at the paper for more than 20 years, Perlstein was part of a news team that won Pulitzer Prizes for Public Service and Breaking News Reporter for coverage of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Perlstein left the paper to join the Loyola faculty in 2006. — Johnson

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