Monday morning, as most of the country awoke to the news of the death of Osama bin Laden - and then set off for work or play with a smile - Miami Herald staffers showed up for work and were greeted with this bit of bad news from publisher David Landsberg:
May 2, 2011A few minutes later, this email from executive editor Mindy Marques popped up in newsroom in boxes:
We have been communicating to you since January that the first few months of 2011 have been more challenging, from a revenue standpoint, than anyone expected. While we are seeing some sectors of business growing again, others reflect a realignment of ad spending across media nationwide and are causing continued year-over-year revenue declines.
In response, we have spent the last month revising our 2011 operating plan to bring expenses in line with our expected revenue trend. We have identified savings across a wide range of operational costs, and have made every effort to minimize the impact on our products and on our people. Regrettably, the plan will result in the loss of 15 jobs company-wide. We also will eliminate approximately 35 vacant positions.
Most job eliminations are in areas where employees doing similar work will have an opportunity to elect to leave voluntarily. Those affected are being notified; all will be eligible for separation packages.
While this period of turmoil is not behind us yet, we believe we are moving in the right direction. We thank all of you, once again, for your persistence, and for your passion for the important work we do.
This is to follow up the announcement from David Landsberg that went out a few minutes ago.
In the newsroom, this will mean the loss of two positions. Two works groups will be offered an opportunity to voluntarily leave the company with a separation package. Those affected were contacted first thing this morning.
In order to limit staff reductions, 10 vacant positions will be taken out of the budget for the coming year. Those vacancies include critical jobs, which will require us to revisit our current editing and reporting jobs and realign some assignments. Rick Hirsch and a small group of editors has already begun work on that front, and we will be getting more of your thoughts before moving quickly to reorganize as needed.
We also worked aggressively to reduce expenses in travel, freelance and contract labor. We'll be talking with individual supervisors who have budget oversight on these specific details.
Though far smaller in scope than in the past, any reductions bring turmoil and heartache to those directly affected, and to the rest of the newsroom. We'll have a general information session at 5 p.m. in the Knight conference room to answer any questions not addressed during the day.
If you have questions, please let me know. Your editor, department head and Human Resources staff members are also ready to answer questions.