Times executives said this year that they did not anticipate — but would not rule out — the news staff shrinking in 2009, except through attrition. In fact, when employees took a 5 percent pay cut for most of this year, it was meant to forestall any staff reductions. But hopes for a year-end turnaround in the newspaper business have faded.

Third-quarter results reported in the last few days by the Gannett Company and the McClatchy Company indicate that the industry’s steep drop in advertising barely slowed in the third quarter. The New York Times Company will report its results for the quarter on Thursday. The ad slump has caused newspapers to consider charging readers for online content, a topic of heated debate within The Times this year.