Wednesday, March 11, 2009

More cuts at the Herald; 19% of workforce to lose jobs

UPDATED @ 2:45pm Some of those cut today include Herald director of photography Luis Rios and business editor Lisa Gibbs. Crime reporter Jose Pagliery has been let go but has been told he can freelance. Marsha Halper a 25 year veteran Broward photographer goes from full-time to part-time. John Van Beekum, a 20 year Herald veteran photographer has been cut. Photo editor Suzy Mast, who ironically, escaped with her job at the last minute during the last round of cuts, has also been laid off.

"It became necessary to destroy the town to save it." -- An American major after the destruction of the Vietnamese Village Ben Tre, Feb. 1968

Miami Herald publisher David Landsberg sent out a much-anticipated memo this morning outlining yet another round of job cuts and other "expense reductions" at the beleaguered paper.

("Herald executive editor, Anders Gyllenhaal, says in a separate e-mail that the layoffs include 33 full-time and eight part-time newsroom positions. He says some remaining staff will see their hours cut.")

This is the third such announcement in less than a year.

Last June the Herald announced a reduction of 17% of the workforce.

Exactly three months later in September managing editor Anders Gyllenhaal announced another round of staff reductions.

By October of 2008 publisher Landsberg was telling some staffers that further cuts might not be necessary.

Some of the cost saving measures ordered by Landsberg are:

  • 19% of workforce cut.

  • 175 employees will lose jobs.

  • 30 vacant positions eliminated.

  • Pay cuts for all full-time employees making more than $25,000 a year.

  • Full-timers will lose an additional one week of pay through unpaid furloughs.

  • Herald presses will be converted to a 44-inch web format in an effort save $2 million annually in newsprint costs.

    Here's the full text of Landsberg's memo:
    To: All Employees

    From: David Landsberg, Publisher

    Subject: Workforce and Wage Reductions

    Date: March 11, 2009

    Following Monday’s McClatchy Company cost savings announcement, I want to share with you the details for the Miami Herald Media Company. We are announcing plans to reduce our workforce by approximately 19%. About 175 employees will lose their jobs as a result, and we will eliminate another 30 vacant positions, for a total reduction of 205. Reductions will occur in all areas of our operation and at every level in the organization.

    Although many of the job eliminations will occur through involuntary layoffs, there also will be opportunities for employees to voluntarily elect a severance package where reductions are occurring in work groups of two or more employees. If enough employees do not take the voluntary option, then the work groups will be reduced either by function or according to least tenure, depending on the workgroup.

    Employees affected by this reduction are being notified and provided with information about a transition package. If a voluntary option is being offered to your work group, you will receive written notification with additional information today.

    The decisions about where to reduce jobs have been extremely difficult. Please know that we have done everything possible to minimize the impact of layoffs by identifying alternative means of saving expenses, several of which are detailed below.

    We will implement pay reductions for all full-time employees making more than $25,000 per year in base salary. For those who earn between $25,000 and $50,000 per year in base pay, the reduction will be 5%. For employees who make more than $50,000 per year in base pay, the reduction will be 10%.

    Every employee will receive a letter detailing the impact of the pay reduction in the next few days. These reductions will take effect for the pay period beginning March 23, 2009.

    We will also implement a one-week unpaid furlough program. Details on that program, which will begin in April, will be made available in the next two weeks.

    Additionally, we are eliminating all 2009 bonuses (MBOs) for everyone in management.

    We also are reducing operational expenses in all areas. Among those reductions:

    We will convert our presses to a 44-inch web format, which will conserve more than $2 million in newsprint on an annualized basis.

    We have leased the sixth floor of One Herald Plaza, and we will consolidate our Dadeland news and advertising operations into other Herald facilities and seek a tenant to lease that office space.

    We will cease publication of our International Edition, reducing costs that are now outpacing revenues for that product.

    While there will be tightening of news pages on various days, we have worked hard to maintain our newspapers at the quality level our readers have come to expect.

    All of these are difficult decisions, especially when it means saying goodbye to so many of our friends and colleagues. But we must make these additional cuts to ensure the viability of our newspapers and to adjust to new competitive and economic realities.

    Each of the actions we’re announcing today has been shaped by our commitment to continue to serve readers, advertisers and our community through the vital public service we have provided for more than 100 years. We must keep that mission – and the long view – in our sights. Every day, I hear from readers about the value of the work we do. While forced to make difficult changes, we will not lose focus on continuing to be South Florida’s most trusted source of information.

    Again, I want to apologize for the disruption that you have experienced over the last several weeks. We can only respectfully ask, as we have in the past, that you keep your focus and continue to work hard to help our company succeed.

    Please contact human resources if you have any questions about the severance program or wage reductions.
    Thanks, David.
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