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The North County Times today laid off 25 newsroom staffers — a significant reduction of about 25 percent in its news staff. Nine other employees were laid off companywide, constituting about a 10 percent overall reduction in staff size.

It’s the third time the Times has cut its staff this year.

The Times lost 16 newsroom employees in February as part of a voluntary buyout plan. It cut another 10 people in September, including one from the newsroom. Combining all the cuts, the newspaper’s editorial staff has been trimmed almost a third this year.

Editor Kent Davy said the cuts were not made throughout the newspapers owned by Lee Enterprises, the Times’ publicly traded parent company, which posted a severe profit decline last week. Davy said the layoffs were a result of the “general market and advertising market.”

Lee Enterprises, an Iowa-based company, has seen its stock value battered in recent years as it has continued posting declines in advertising revenue. The company, which owns the Times, St. Louis Post-Dispatch and 48 other daily papers across the country, was valued by stockholders at $2 billion in 2004. Today, all of its stock is worth $68 million.

The laid-off employees will receive severance packages, though Davy would not comment on what they include. Davy said he remained hopeful about his newspaper’s future.

“The newsroom in this paper is composed of extraordinarily fine people, both those who we had to say goodbye to today, but also those who remain,” he said. “I have every confidence we can continue to build a fine newspaper here. This is an extraordinarily painful day. One we’re sad about. But I’m confident we will rebound. This paper has a future in San Diego and North County.”

Update: The original version of this post incorrectly stated that Lee Enteprises posted a loss last week. The post has been updated to reflect a profit decline.

ROB DAVIS

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