Friday, March 6, 2009

More bad newspaper news

My first job at a real newspaper, like the one thrown in my front yard every morning as a kid, came at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Some of the most interesting and entertaining moments in my career happened on the 3rd-floor newsroom of their downtown tower.

It was there that I covered my first football game (Fort Worth Paschal High School against some terrible Dallas school), met boxing legend Angelo Dundee and won a 3-on-3 basketball tournament at the company picnic. They even sent me - a trembling 20-year-old cub reporter - into the Dallas Cowboys' locker room, where Emmitt Smith promptly blistered me during a postgame news conference.

In all, my editors showed a faith in me and my abilities that I didn't even have in myself. I'm forever grateful.

So it's with the utmost sadness that I read this news yesterday:

We will reduce our workforce by about 12% of all employees. Please know that we did everything possible to minimize the impact of layoffs as outlined in the other expense savings plans below. Reductions will occur in virtually all areas of our operation.

... We will implement a wage reduction for employees whose compensation exceeds $25,000 annually. $25,000 to $49,999 will receive a 2.5% reduction, $50,000 to $99,999 will receive a 5% reduction and over $100,000 will receive a 10% reduction.

We are also planning for a one-week unpaid furlough program in the 2nd half of 2009. We are hopeful that business will improve and we can avoid having to implement this, but we think it’s important you know it’s a possibility. If implement ed, details will be provided at a later date.

Finally, as a reminder, McClatchy announced on Feb. 5 its decision to significantly reduce operating expenses as a result of ongoing and unprecedented economic pressures and revenue declines. The company announced a freeze of the company’s pension plans and the temporary suspension of the 401(k) company match. Both take effect March 31, 2009.
Once again, my thoughts are with all the affected journalists, some of them my former colleagues and mentors. That goes for the ones who had to leave and the ones who have to stay.

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