Owner of local paper eliminating jobs nationwide

March 9, 2009 7:35:22 AM PDT
Newspaper publisher McClatchy Co., which owns Raleigh based The News and Observer, said Monday that it plans to eliminate 1,600 jobs, or 15 percent of its work force. The company, also owns The Miami Herald, The Sacramento Bee and newspapers in North Carolina and South Carolina. It had said that it planned deep cost cuts this year, hoping to save between $100 million to $110 million, and slashed its dividend 90 percent.

But Chairman and Chief Executive Gary Pruitt said in a statement Monday that "given the worsening economy, we must do more."

McClatchy said it is turning to cost-control efforts because of plunging ad revenues plaguing the entire publishing sector.

In June 2008, The News and Observer sited that reason for its 8 percent staff reduction. About 70 employees lost their jobs.

News and Observer cut jobs - June 2008

In September, The News and Observer reduced its content and circulation in an attempt to offset costs. Eyewitness News spoke to subscribers who said a lack of content made them cancel their subscriptions.

Readers notice a slimmer News and Observer - September 2008

In addition to a lack of ad revenue, McClathcy is trying to recover $5.3 million owed by newspapers it sold to companies that have recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

But the company's problems don't stop with those sales. McClatchy has its own debt worries. The company owed about $2.04 billion as of the end of 2008, stemming mainly from its 2006 acquisition of the Knight Ridder newspaper chain.

While the job cuts will not solve all McClatchy's troubles, the company said its cost-control efforts excluding severance and other benefit charges related to previous reductions led to a 14.4 percent drop in cash expenses for the fourth quarter.

The latest round of cuts, which will start by the end of the first quarter and include just about every business component, will come through attrition, consolidating and outsourcing some functions and will include about $30 million in severance costs.

Last week The Sacramento Bee announced plans to cut 34 of the 268 Guild-covered positions in the editorial and advertising departments. Another 19 jobs would have been in jeopardy, but union members agreed to take pay cuts to save the positions.

The Bee eliminated 86 positions in June as part of a 10 percent cut affecting all McClatchy papers and gave buyouts to another 87 employees in September, including 23 in its newsroom.

The newspaper publisher said it will lower executives' salaries by 10 percent. No executive will receive a 2009 bonus.

CEO Pruitt said he will forgo his 2008 and 2009 bonuses in addition to taking a 15 percent base pay cut.

McClatchy has 30 daily newspapers, about 50 non-dailies and direct marketing and direct-mail operations.


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