Today’s report includes one newspaper closing, more layoffs, and a sale.
A Mississippi newspaper shuts down
Always sad to hear of the death of a community newspaper, and this time it’s a small town in Mississippi that loses what had been a community forum for more than a century.
From Melanie Dzwonchyk of ExploreHoward.com:
The Laurel Leader-Call. . .will cease publishing after its March 29 issue, its editors announced March 26.
In a story on the paper’s website, it was reported that publisher Mitchell Lynch advised the paper’s 18 employees of the decision Monday afternoon, and that he said subscribers who had paid for the paper in advance would be reimbursed.
According to its website, the Laurel Leader-Call was first published in 1911 as the Laurel Daily Argus. It was later called the Laurel Daily Leader and became the Laurel Leader-Call in 1930. In 1999, the paper was purchased by a subsidiary of Community Newspaper Holdings Inc.
Last year, the Laurel Leader-Call reduced its publication from daily to four days a week.
The numbers tell the tale in Philly
First, the Philadelphia Media Network has been sold, with the new owners paying $55 million for a consortium that includes both of the city’s metropolitan dailies, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News.
The sale to a consortium of business folk headed by New Jersey Democratic Party honcho George Norcross comes two years after the previous owners, a group of hedge fund tycoons and other investors, paid $139 million for the papers. They in turn had bought it from a third group, which purchased the papers four years earlier for $515 million.
At that rate, we’ll be able to buy the papers with pocket change in another couple of years.
Whether or not the sale will be accompanied by the usual round of layoffs remains to be seen, given that the old owners had already announced layoffs to sweeten the pot for the new buyers,
And some more numbers
Blogger Robert Struckman, a Washington-based union activist, has our first set:
Mary Junck, CEO of Iowa-based Lee Enterprises, dragged the company into a financial mess until the company finally sought bankruptcy protection… and [last] week she got a $500,000 bonus! For steering the company through these tough economic times!
And on the same day as news of Junck’s bonus hit the Web, 10 of the chain’s workers in Butte, Helena, Billings and Missoula have been laid off or accepted cheap buyouts–one week’s pay for every year worked.
Lee’s stock has performed a stunning dive from a high monthly average of $48.98 in June of 2004 to a low of $.29 in February of 2009. Lately, it’s been hovering a dime or so over a dollar.
Meanwhile, over the past five years the company has slashed its staff and benefits across all of its papers.
One Lee employee put it best, likening the raw deal to being hit by an exploding “shit balloon.”
Oh, and the chain’s CFO got a $250,000 bonus.
And Lee makes yet more layoffs
This time it’s the Post-Star in Glenn Falls, New York.
The story from Thom Randall of the Valley News in Elizabethtown, New York:
The Post-Star, the southern Adirondack region’s daily newspaper, has laid off one-third of its entire staff of news reporters, leaving people questioning their news coverage territory.
Calls placed to Post-Star Publisher Rick Emanuel and City Editor Bob Condon were not returned by Friday March 30. Managing Editor Ken Tingley was on vacation, according to his voicemail message.
Sources familiar with the Post-Star said the staff cuts were made Wednesday March 28.
As of Thursday March 29, the names of news reporters Thomas Dimopoulos, Jamie Munks and David Taube were removed from the Post Star’s online staff directory, which the day before listed nine news reporters’ names.
Also absent from the company directory Thursday were the names of copy editor Christopher FitzGerald, photographer Aaron Eisenhauer and sportswriters Mary Albl and Larry Hall.
Reporters remaining at the Post-Star refused to talk this week about the staff cuts.
News from another sector
Yep, this time it’s one of those glossy, gadget-filled men’s magazines that’s bringing out the journalism job chopper.
From Josh Constine of TechCrunch:
The Internet killed the magazine star. There’s been a major round of layoffs at Maxim magazine. Senior Editor Seth Porges is at least one employee who got the axe, according to our sources and confirmed by a recent update to his Twitter bio that now lists him as “EX-MAXIM”.
Update: We’ve confirmed there’s been six layoffs from the editors, web, and photo teams. The layoffs could be a response to declining magazine sales due to the fracturing of men’s attention caused by rise of the internet and social media. There’s just more places for men to look at gadgets, guns, and girls than there used to be.
Maxim is part of the Alpha Media Group which also own Stuff magazine. Alpha Media Group’s been in trouble for a while. Back in 2009 it had to shut down its music magazine Blender and fire multiple Maxim staff members including several editors.