Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Update on Herald buyouts and job cuts

According to Herald managing editor Anders Gyllenhaal's memo last Tuesday, about 200 Herald editorial staffers were offered voluntary buyouts in an effort to pare 23 newsroom positions.

The way it's been explained to me, if enough of those 200 step forward and take the buyout, then anyone who didn't accept or anyone who wasn't eligible, won't lose their jobs. However, if the goal of 23 isn't reached then some people - probably those with the least seniority - will be let go.

The deadline to decide on the voluntary offer was today. The company will make a decision on accepting them by this Friday.

A newsroom staffer who attended one of the departmental meetings last Wednesday when options were discussed said people in his department were "in shock." After the presentation his department head asked if anyone had any questions. He was greeted by complete silence according to my source.

Some staffers already know that the axe is about to fall and are making plans to leave.

One bit of information that hasn't been reported is that Gyllenhaal was heard to say that 10 more staff cuts may be necessary in January.

But before then another piece of potentially bad news is looming on the horizon for the Herald. In the next month or so circulation numbers for U.S. newspapers will be released. Figures for the last reporting period ending in March 2008 showed the Herald's "daily circulation falling 11.7 percent to 240,233 copies, down from 272,192 copies at the end of March 2007." Barring a miracle the Herald is probably looking at a similar dismal decline in readership.

Also the very important holiday advertising season is approaching fast for newspaper ad people. Ad execs are hoping that they can make up for a very bad year between now and Christmas in spite of the economy.

The next few months are very important for everyone at the Herald and newspapers everywhere.

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