Updated from 9:15 a.m. EDT

In a gloomy but not surprising sign of the times, The New York Times on Tuesday reported a loss of $74.5 million, or 52 cents a share, for the first three months of the year.

The loss, which compares with a loss of $335,000 in the first quarter of 2008, includes charges of 18 cents per share for severance and other items.

Citing the global economic downturn and changes in the newspaper industry, the Times said advertising revenue for the first quarter fell 27%. Total revenue reported dropped 19% to $609 million. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected a loss of 4 cents per share on $630.8 million in revenue.

The company said that Internet revenue from such businesses as NYTimes.com, About.com and Boston.com fell 5.6% to $78.2 million, down from $82.9 million, and Internet ad revenue fell 8% to $42.2 million.

President and CEO Janet L. Robinson said the company does not expect the rate of ad revenue decline to improve in the second quarter, but it does expect an eventual improvement when the economy recovers. "While we are looking forward to that day, we are not waiting for it," Robinson said in a news release. The company expects a reduction of operating costs for the second quarter to the tune of $330 million.

"We have moved aggressively to restructure our cost base in line with our revenues and continue to develop innovative new digital products that enhance our financial performance," Robinson said. "When advertising improves, we believe we will be well positioned to meet the needs of the marketplace and to benefit from our restructured cost base."

In a conference call Tuesday, Robinson said that the print ad categories that performed well were corporate, driven by energy-related companies and government trade groups, and cosmetic manufacturers and stores, led by campaigns by Procter & Gamble ( PG).

The Times also said it was considering an online pay model, a tactic already used at News Corp.'s ( NWS) Wall Street Journal Web site.

The newspaper industry has been hit especially hard during the economic downturn, leaving giants such as the Times, The Washington Post ( WPO), Gannett ( GCI), McClatchy ( MNI) and A.H. Belo ( AHC) searching for ways to cut costs -- in some cases reducing or ceasing distribution -- increase efficiency and grow revenue.

New York Times shares were recently falling 12.5% to $5.12. The stock has a 52-week high of $21.14, and a low of $3.44.

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