Bad News for NJ

Daily Newspapers

The Times of Trenton, along with the Star-Ledger, its sister publication, will be put up for sale as a package deal if nearly one-third of the papers’ non-union employees don’t agree to accept buy-out offers and if unions don’t agree to concessions. That’s the message from Advance Publications, owner of the papers, which hopes to shed 200 positions at the Star-Ledger and 25 at the Times of Trenton. Employees received this news on July 31.

The drastic action comes as the papers’ suffer large drops in revenue as a result of a flagging national economy and the shift of advertising from print to the Internet.

The Star-Ledger is New Jersey’s largest newspaper, while the Times of Trenton is the largest daily newspaper serving central New Jersey.

Non-union employees were offered one year’s pay and a year of health coverage regardless of years of service. Employees would leave the paper by the end of the year.

Both newspapers, which are part of the Newhouse group, have already made changes, combining news and feature sections, and relying more on wire service stories than on original reporting. In announcing the buy-out offers and the possibility of the sale of the papers, George E. Arwady, publisher of the Star Ledger, said that more changes would be necessary if the papers are to survive.

A few days before the buy-out offers were made, Advance, which is owned by the Newhouse family, said that it will the Newhouse News Service in Washington, D.C., after the presidential elections.

Advance owns 27 daily newspapers, including the Oregonian in Portland, Oregon; the Plain Dealer in Cleveland; and the Times-Picayune in New Orleans. It also owns Conde Nast Publications, the second-biggest magazine publisher in the country.

Similar buyouts have not been offered elsewhere in the chain, but Advance President Donald Newhouse said in an article published in the Star-Ledger that the New Jersey newspapers have suffered outsize losses. Combined, the Times of Trenton and the Star-Ledger are losing between $30 million and $40 million a year.

Advance has never sold a newspaper in a history dating to the 1920s, but Newhouse said the one-two punch of the economic downturn and sinking ad revenues was unprecedented and required a downsizing of personnel.

“There is no question that this is a necessity,” he said of the changes. “Provided we cannot get voluntarily what we need — and I am optimistic we will and we will avoid needing to sell it — we have no choice but to sell.”

The Times of Trenton, 500 Perry Street, , Box 847, Trenton 08605; 609-989-5454; fax, 609-394-2819. Richard Bilotti, publisher. Home page: www.nj.com/times.

More Lay-Offs at Pharmacopeia

Biopharmaceutical firm Pharmacopeia announced on August 5 that it has cut 40 percent of its workforce. These lay-offs come on top of a 15 percent reduction in May. The company said that the downsizing was made so that it could focus on its strategic initiatives, and particularly on developing one of its lead compounds, PS433540, for the treatment of diabetic neuropahty.

In March, before the lay-offs begun, Pharmacopeia had about 173 employees. The company is headed by Joseph Mollica, who took over as interim CEO, adding that title to his position as chairman of the board, in April following the sudden resignation of Leslie Brown, who had been CEO since 2004.

Pharmacopeia has several other drug candidates in early- and mid-stage clinical trials, which are being developed alone or with partners, including Schering-Plough and Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Shares of the company, which have fallen 40 percent this year, closed at $2.85 Monday on Nasdaq.

Pharmacopeia Drug Discovery Inc. (PCOP), 3000 Eastpark Boulevard, Box 5350, Cranbury 08512; 609-452-3600; fax, 609-452-3672. Joseph Mollica, chairman and CEO. www.pcop.com.

New in Town

M5 Networks Inc., 7 Spruce Road, East Windsor 08520; 609-448-8186. John A. Smith, principal. Home page: www.m5net.com.

John A. Smith has opened the Princeton office of a New York-based firm that offers virtual phone systems to small and mid-size businesses. Smith quotes analysts who believe that, in the next five to ten years, most small and midsize businesses will no longer own a phone system, but will instead acquire their phones as a service.

His firm, M5 Networks, has a product, called “Voice as a Service,” which allows clients to have all the features of a business phone system without installing the hardware. “These clients will no longer have a phone system sitting in their closet with a dusty manual sitting on top of it,” says Smith.

Smith graduated from Rutgers University in 1987 with bachelors degrees in both information systems and business administration.

Quest Copy Service, 1675 Whitehorse-Mercerville Road, Suite 101, Box 3420, Trenton 08619; 609-587-0300; fax, 609-587-1103. www.questcopyservice.com.

Quest Copy Service, which provides document services for the legal, medical, and insurance industries, has opened on Whitehorse-Mercerville Road. HIPAA compliant, Quest transforms paper documents into accurate digital reproductions and offers a range of services from finishing to document destruction.

Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, 950 Route 33, 609-577-3334; fax, 866-359-4063. Sharon Gorny, branch manager.

Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, a division of the San Francisco-based Wells Fargo Investments, has opened a branch in Hamilton. The firm provides mortgage and financial services to individuals, and small businesses.

Deaths

Kenneth Barnhart II, 85, on July 26. Following a career in finance, he served as president of the class of 1945, Princeton University, and treasurer of Princeton Windrows. A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, August 9, at 2 p.m. at Princeton Windrows.

Michael Mahoney, 69, on July 23. A history professor at Princeton University for 40 years, he was the author of “The Mathematical Career of Pierre de Fermat, 1601-1665”.

Ramona A. Alegria, 94, on May 8. Along with her husband, Carlos Alegria, she founded the Mexican Village restaurants, first in New York City and later in other locations, including Leigh Avenue in Princeton.

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