Thursday, February 05, 2009

More bad news at the Herald!

"In other words, it's a huge sh*t sandwich, and we're all gonna have to take a bite." -Lt. Lockhart in the film "Full Metal Jacket."
The one thing the folks at the Herald don't need right now is more bad news.

But it looks like they're going to get some.

The McClatchy Company, the Herald's parent, announced today that "fourth-quarter earnings from continuing operations fell to $21.8 million, or 26 cents a share."

The company also announced that it's "developing plans to lop another $100 million to $110 million from its operating expenses -- including, possibly, more layoffs."

Herald publisher David Landsberg was a little more direct in a memo sent out this morning to the Herald newsroom: "Unfortunately, it is already apparent there is no way to avoid the elimination of staff positions. We are exploring several alternatives to help limit the number of layoffs."

His memo pretty much mimics language in memos being sent out by publishers at other McClatchy papers.

From: Landsberg, David - Miami
Sent: Thu 2/5/2009 9:37 AM
To: .MIA All Herald Users
Subject: McClatchy Announcement
To: All Employees
From: David Landsberg
Subject: McClatchy Announcement

Date: Feb. 5, 2009

This morning, McClatchy announced that it is freezing its pension plans and temporarily suspending the company match to its 401(k) plans, effective March 31. McClatchy also announced that it will cut an additional $100 to $110 million in expenses over the next 12 months. The press release is available at McClatchy will send more detail on the retirement changes to you directly, both by e-mail and information mailed to your home.

Here at the Miami Herald Media Company, we have seen an unprecedented loss in advertising revenue, with quite a few of our retailers and auto dealers going out of business or leaving the area. In addition, employment advertising revenues continue to drop to all-time lows and real estate remains very weak.

These challenges are clearly driven by a deepening recession that is hurting our economy.

We are still developing our plan to address this extraordinary economic challenge. We are committed to completing this work as quickly as possible, and to communicating details to you as soon as they are final.

Unfortunately, it is already apparent there is no way to avoid the elimination of staff positions. We are exploring several alternatives to help limit the number of layoffs.

We understand that today's announcement is especially discouraging given all the cuts made in 2008. We had hoped that previous cuts would be sufficient to see us through the sharp revenue declines affecting our industry. Instead, we find ourselves facing a deepening financial crisis that threatens not only our industry, but all kinds of businesses, both locally and across the globe.

The decisions we now need to make are difficult. However, we are moving deliberately to position our newspapers to compete and succeed in a demanding, competitive, more integrated media environment. We will remain the community's most comprehensive source of news and advertising.

As in the past, we will work quickly to notify employees who may be affected by staff reductions. As mentioned above, these plans are not finalized, so you may not hear more on this for a few weeks. Employees whose positions are eliminated will be provided with a transition package that will include severance pay and benefits continuation. We will do everything possible to make this transition as smooth as possible.

There's no way we at Miami Herald Media Company would be able to manage through today's difficult environment without the talent, innovation and dedication of our staff. I know we have asked a lot from you, and I thank each one of you for what you have done and are continuing to do.
The grim reality is that South Florida is a little closer today than it was yesterday of losing its daily newspaper.

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