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The Wall Street Journal offers buyouts to news employees, seeking 'substantial number'

The Wall Street Journal
Francis Dean | Corbis | Getty Images
The Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal is offering all employees in its news division the option to take buyouts, according to an internal memo obtained by CNBC.

Reuters first reported the news on Friday.

The paper, which is owned by News Corp., is "seeking a substantial number of employees" to take the buyouts, according to a memo from Gerard Baker, its editor-in-chief.

"In order to limit the number of involuntary layoffs, we will be offering all news employees around the world — management and non-management — the option to elect to take an enhanced voluntary severance benefit," Baker said in the memo.

Baker said employees interested in accepting the buyout must email the human services department by October 31, stating as follows: "I [NAME] elect to be considered for the WSJ News Department voluntary severance benefit."

Baker said in the memo the Journal reserves the right to reject a volunteer based on business considerations, and commended the news department on its "world-class journalism."

"I regret of course the need for such a move and I appreciate deeply the dedication all of you continue to show through challenging times," he said. "I'm confident this process is the right one to set us on the right footing for renewed growth in the years ahead."

News Corp. and Dow Jones did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.

An accidental reply-all email subsequently revealed that Barron's, a sister publication of the Journal, is planning on announcing layoffs next week, Politico reported.

"The email Gerry Baker just sent about wsj buyouts says that dj is offering 1.5x the standard buyout package," Ed Finn, editor and president of Barron's, wrote in reply to the earlier memo. "Are we planning to go to the employees we are laying off at Barron's next week and offer them 1x the standard package. That could create some problems. Please advise."

Finn told Politico that he had intended to send the email to company executives, but hit reply all instead of forward, sending it to the Journal's staff.

During its last earnings conference call, News Corp. CFO Bedi Ajay Singh told analysts, that "domestic advertising at The Wall Street Journal declined around 12 percent versus the prior-year quarter with declines in print being partially offset by modest growth in digital" while circulation revenue grew 5 percent at the paper.