the_new_york_times.jpegNEW YORK (AP) — The New York Times is cutting sections and trimming its budget for freelance contributions in another round of belt tightening aimed at coping with a steep decline in ad revenue.

The newspaper's executive editor, Bill Keller, announced the cuts in a staff memo Thursday.

The Times currently produces zoned Sunday sections with different mixes of local news for New York City, New Jersey, Long Island, Westchester County, N.Y., and Connecticut. Now those will be reduced to zoned pages within a single regional section. Keller said the newspaper was still working on a prototype and hoped to launch the new section on May 24.

Keller also said the standalone Escapes travel section will disappear after April 24, with some content folded into the Friday Weekend section.

The New York Times Magazine will end its weekly fashion spreads after May 3. Fashion coverage will primarily appear instead in the Times' T Magazine and the newspaper's Thursday and Sunday Style sections.

Beginning Tuesday, the Times will condense its three-page daily index of stories into one page.

Keller said the newspaper will begin trimming its freelance budgets within weeks, though he did not elaborate.

"Taken together, these moves will save millions of dollars – savings that would otherwise have to come out of payroll," he wrote.

Last year, to save costs, the newspaper folded its metro section into the main news section, which includes national and international stories, for the Monday-Saturday editions. The newspaper also combined the business and sports sections in Tuesday-Friday editions. That allowed the newspaper to eliminate its second press run on most nights.

Keller said committees studying ways that the newspaper can make more money online issued a progress report to Times management this week, but no decisions have been made about changes to the Times' Web site.

The Times and other newspapers, struggling as growth in online revenue has yet to offset steep declines in print ad revenue, have signaled they may begin charging for some online content.

Keller said the Times hopes to ride out the rest of the year without significant cuts beyond what was announced Thursday and a 5 percent pay cut imposed last month. Nonunion workers took the nine-month salary cut beginning April 1. Union employees have yet to vote on management's request that they take the same cut.

Besides cost cuts, the newspaper's owner, The New York Times Co., has been taking steps to generate cash to meet upcoming debt payments.

The company sold most of its home office for $225 million in a deal that lets it rent back the offices, and it secured a $250 million infusion from Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim by agreeing to pay an abnormally high interest rate of 14 percent.

Meanwhile, the Times company has threatened to close The Boston Globe unless it gets $20 million in concessions from 13 unions.