Thursday, May 22, 2008

Going from bad to worse

So tonight we get word that the Herald might be getting ready to lay off 230 employees. It's just a rumor but rumors these days at the Herald have a way of becoming painful reality.

What's not a rumor is that the Herald's parent company McClatchy is struggling to get costs in line and reduce debt.

The Fort Worth Star Telegram--McClatchy owned--announced today that it's selling an "annex building" connected to its main building and some parking lots it owns.

Also today McClatchy announced that it has bought back some $300 million of its publicly traded bonds.

"The buyback was supposed to total $250 million but was expanded because so many bondholders were interested in selling their notes back to the company."

Kind of reminds you of those old silent movies where people are trapped in a snowbound cabin and start burning the furniture to stay warm.

The Herald's had a "For Sale" sign on the property directly in front of its building for some time.

McClatchy headquarters must also be a very depressing place to work. Just go to Google and type in
"McClatchy" and "debt."

As far as layoffs the Herald can't afford to lose any more people without completely sacrificing quality which is practically non-existent at this point.

Consider this headline (see below) on a story tonight on their website. The story was clearly about some sort of celebration in Little Haiti over the weekend but the headline writer's thoughts and head were in another place. Literally.

Right now my sources describe the Herald as a ship without a rudder. Morale, as I've written before, is rock bottom. Many people there are going through the motions.

Some care deeply about their craft and the predicament they are in.

Others couldn't care less and are stuck in the past.

I recently spoke with one very popular columnist and told this person that if I was in charge they'd be writing a blog.

Response? "I don't have time to write a blog; I'm busy writing my column and checking stuff all day."

Keep in mind that this person produces exactly two 700 word columns a week, period.

There are other problems as well. Photographers are working with malfunctioning cameras because there's literally no money to buy new ones or get the existing cameras fixed.

So while the word of 230 layoffs is just a rumor at this point I wouldn't be surprised if the rumor turned out to be true.

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  1. "The Herald's had a "For Sale" sign on the property directly in front of its building for some time."

    They were selling the main parking lot. I thought they had an offer already?

  2. Interesting -- and sad -- post. On a side note, the monkey photo from the other day is freaking me out.

  3. It seems that no one at McClatchy - or any newspaper - have twigged to the fact that their business is actually news, and that their sales are tailing off in direct relation to the volume of quality news they print.


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