Monday, June 16, 2008

Miami Herald to cut 17% of workforce

UPDATED at 4:45pm below in red

NEW: Long time Herald staffer and Treasure Coast bureau chief Phil Long has been fired and his bureau closed says a source. Gary Fineout of the Herald's Tallahassee bureau has also been fired. Twenty-two other Herald employees were told today they no longer have jobs. (More updates below in red.)

The McClatchy Company, parent company of the Miami Herald, announced Monday that it's slashing its workforce by 10%.

From the McClatchy press release:

"The effects of the current national economic downturn -- particularly in real estate, auto and employment advertising -- make it essential that we move faster now to realign our workforce and make our operations more efficient. I'm sorry this requires the painful announcement we are making today, but we're taking this action to help ensure a healthy future for our company."

(The announcement comes on the heels of more bad news from McClatchy. The company reported Monday a 15.1% decline in advertising revenues in the first five months of the year.)

My sources say that the Herald will be cutting 17% of its employees. This is confirmed by a story on the Herald's website. About 250 full and part-time employees will be let go through voluntary buy outs or lay offs.

At another McClatchy owned paper, the Charlotte Observer, publisher Ann Caulkins announced that the Observer is cutting 11% of its workforce or about 123 jobs; 22 of those in the newsroom.

McClatchy Watch has a breakdown of cuts at other McClatchy-owned papers.

Herald Watch has a memo from managing editor Anders Gyllenhaal who calls the cuts "cost reductions."

One sentence in the first graph is very telling.

"For The Herald newsroom, this will mean a series of steps, including buyouts, reorganization of several departments, a leaner management and an expansion of outsourcing."

"Leaner management" apparently means that some managers will probably be losing their jobs. And how the newsroom will be affected by "an expansion of outsourcing" remains to be seen.

The memo goes in to great detail outlining meetings that are going to take up much of the day and where, no doubt, more than a few tears will be shed and feelings laid bare.

UPDATE: A source reports that the 11pm general meeting with Anders was subdued.

In all the Herald newsroom will lose 41 people, out of the total of 250 company-wide, or about 12% of the newsroom staff.

One shocked, long-time staffer when asked for a reaction, could only respond with what has become an oft-repeated cliché: "It's a sad day for journalism."

(The Herald's 17% cut (higher than other McClatchy papers) was dictated by the fact that the Herald has been hardest hit by the advertising downturn due in part to the bad real estate market in South Florida.)

Employees are now heading back to their individual departments to find out how they will be impacted.

Buyouts will be offered to a predetermined number of employees in different departments. If there aren't enough takers, then layoffs will follow.

My source reports that all managing editor positions are being eliminated however some managing editors, such as Dave Wilson and Rick Hirsch, will retain their jobs under new designations.

Others like Liza Gross, who is Managing Editor/Presentation & Operations are being reassigned. Gross will become a reporter on the world desk.

My source reports that El Nuevo Herald will lose 9 positions. The El Nuevo photo staff will be merged with the Herald photo staff.

Another casualty is the Herald's International edition which will be eliminated outsourced.

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Other links (via Romenesko):
McClatchy Cutbacks Deeper at Some Papers

Today's cuts may not be enough

McClatchy executive Howard Weaver offers his insight on the cuts

Short tempers at the Raleigh News and Observer

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