[UPDATED] Washington Times is hiring for 17 newsroom positions

“23 job openings?! What in the world is going on at the Washington Times?” a Romenesko reader asks after seeing that the newspaper is looking to hire a Capitol Hill reporter; editorial writer; law enforcement reporter; faith reporter; military reporter; diplomatic correspondent; and journalists for other beats. (Six of the openings are on the business side.)

I asked Times executive editor John Solomon about positions and he responded:

This is a revenue-neutral hiring spree, but one that we’re very proud of. Over the last year under the leadership of our new CEO Larry Beasley we have quietly reorganized every aspect of The Washington Times operations,wt including the newsroom, and have freed up money. Much of these savings have gone to pushing our company toward profitability. Some savings from news operations have been reallocated to growing the size of the newsroom in the areas where we need to shine to serve our audience: national security, politics, policy, faith & family, and original enterprise to name a few. …

Our new subscription-only National Digital Edition is off to a solid start and we will soon debut a redesign of our Web site. A lot of this progress has been made with little fanfare, but it has resulted in substantial growth in Web traffic in the last few months and a tripling of advertising and sales revenues since the beginning of the year. And that has pushed our company closer to profitability than at any time in its history. That said, we’ve still got a lot of hard work ahead, and the newsroom reorganization is just one step ahead on that path.

Update: I’ve received a few emails from Times staffers who say Solomon isn’t telling the whole story. Here’s what one says:

What John Solomon didn’t tell you was that the “hirings” include requests that entire desks reapply for their jobs. The entire foreign team and our copy desks are being made to reapply. I haven’t compared the number of positions currently staffed with the number of jobs posted, but rumor is that this is a way for the paper to hack reporters they are unhappy with and reduce costs of more senior reporters by replacing people further down the rung.

So once again, people are again petrified of losing their jobs before the holidays. Two researchers already have.

Another emailer notes: “The overall head count won’t change much, if at all.”

* Washington Times is accepting resumes for many positions (journalismjobs.com)
* From 2009: Washington Times dismisses 40% of its workforce (washingtontimes.com)