- The Washington Times - Monday, November 9, 2009

The Washington Times announced Monday it has changed the primary leadership of its business and financial operations in order to better keep up with the challenges of a competitive media marketplace.

President and publisher Thomas P. McDevitt, chief financial officer Keith Cooperrider and chairman Dong Moon Joo were relieved of their jobs Sunday.

Jonathan Slevin, who previously served as vice president of The Times, has been named acting president and publisher of the newspaper. An independent assessment and leadership team has been organized to address the practicalties of daily operations, and ultimately, the future sustainability of the news organization.

“There are no plans to shut the company down,” Mr. Slevin told Times employees during a meeting Tuesday morning. “We expect The Washington Times to continue to serve its readers and viewers for years to come.”

Mr. Slevin also told the staff he expected management’s plans for the future “to be concrete quite soon. Your dedication and efforts to move us from a print newspaper to a multi-media enterprise is a key to our success,” Mr. Slevin said. “Your work is the foundation that we will use to go forward, to become a sustainable enterprise.”

In the last two years, The Times has upgraded its Web site and broadcast newsgathering capacity, launched a nationally syndicated radio show, a conservative Web site, a citizen journalism project and a news syndication service — among a burgeoning list of news products that contemporary journalism and its consumers now demand.

Mr. Slevin praised the employees for their work and flexibility in a time of change, noting that widening the reach of The Times and opening other markets formed the “nucleus” of the company’s strategy.

“The Washington Times has a deserved reputation as a fearless voice for citizens,” he said. “In our charge forward, we’ll focus on common sense.”

He told the employees, “Thank you for your steadfastness in the changes that will come.”

Faced with a troubled economy and competition for audience from broadcast and Internet sources, newspapers around the nation have faced falling revenues, bankruptcies, layoffs, buyouts, mergers and cutbacks.

The news about news is grim. Almost 6,000 newspaper journalists lost their jobs last year — the biggest one-year drop in history — according to the American Society of News Editors, which has conducted annual newsroom surveys for more than three decades.

The struggle to “monetize” newspaper content that is now available for free on the Internet has plagued newspaper executives across the board.

The “death of newspapers” has also drawn powerful political interest from lawmakers who are exploring federal “bailouts” for the industry, along with tax breaks and other restructuring efforts meant to ease the woes of the nation’s print media.

“America’s newspapers are struggling to survive,” Sen. John Kerry told employees of The Boston Globe, which has been losing about $1 million a week this year and faced closure.

The Chicago Sun-Times filed for Chapter 11 protection in April, making it the fifth American paper to take that option in the past three months. None of the papers, however, has ceased publication.

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