2016 is shaping up as another bad year for the news media, with downsizings happening in both the United States and Europe.
We’ll begin with the most notable new example, via the New York Post:
Chairman and Publisher Arthur “Pinch” Sulzberger Jr.’s management team has been talking with some of the Times’ unions to come to a deal to provide reduced severance to those affected, sources told The Post.
“There’s a goal of a couple of hundred people,” said a source familiar with talks. “They don’t want to pay out big packages, and they’re having negotiations with the unions.”
The layoffs would likely occur between the Aug. 21 end of the summer Olympics in Brazil and Election Day on Nov. 8, sources said.
A union source confirmed there are ongoing talks about reducing severance pay, but wasn’t aware of lay-off plans at this time.
Next, the hammer falls at a major Midwestern paper, the same one esnl read as a grade schooler growing up in a small Kansas farm town.
Via Cision Media Research:
Layoffs and buyouts have hit the newsroom at The Kansas City Star. The buyouts affected several veterans of the paper, including editorial page editor Steve Paul, on staff since 1975; op-ed columnist and editorial board member Barb Shelly, with the paper since 1984; longtime theater critic Robert Trussel, on staff since 1977; digital editor Jody Cox; and assistant sports editor Mark Zeligman.
The following staffers were laid off:
- Greg Hack, assistant business editor
- Alan Bavley, health reporter
- Brian Burnes, metro reporter
- James Fussell, features reporter
- Mary Schulte, online photo editor
The Pittsburgh Business Times covers the kinder, gentler form of downsizing on their own home turf:
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette generated enough editorial staffers to take a second buyout offer in the last seven months that it will not move forward with any layoffs.
“With this buyout, we got near enough to where we need to be that we don’t need to go further,” said Lisa Hurm, general manager for the PG, a division of Toledo-based Block Communications, Inc.
Hurm declined to offer specifics on the number of editorial staffers to take the buyout. She added there were staff reductions in other areas of the publication along with other turnover that layoffs proved unnecessary.
PG management decided to not go forward with any involuntary layoffs after issuing a notice to the leadership of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh of the possibility of newsroom layoffs a little more than a month ago.
Digital First Media, the company that just announced it was eliminating all but the thinnest, token veneer of editing at its Northern California newspapers, has announced the sale of more of its holdings as it continues in a desperate struggle to raise cash.
But that’s what happens when investment bankers look at newspaper holdings as profit centers, a delusion if ever there was one.
From Talking New Media:
The newspaper chain Digital First News [21 April] announced the sale of New England Newspapers Inc., a day after the chain sold The Salt Lake Tribune to Paul Huntsman, the son of businessman and philanthropist Jon M. Huntsman. The papers that are part of the group sold include three dailies and one weekly: The Berkshire Eagle, The Brattleboro Reformer, the Bennington Banner — and the weekly Manchester Journal.
The papers were sold to a local group, Birdland Acquisition LLC whose principals are John C. “Hans” Morris, former president of Visa Inc., Fredric D. Rutberg, former Pittsfield District Court judg, Robert G. Wilmers, chairman and CEO of M&T Bank, and Stanford Lipsey, publisher emeritus of The Buffalo News.
Digital First Media, which is the management company which owns MediaNews Group, Digital First Ventures, and 21st Century Media, which incorporates the old Journal Register Company, just recently was able to acquire the assets of Freedom Communications in a bankruptcy auction. In that auction, Tribune Publishing, which owns the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union Tribune, appeared to have won the auction, which would have added the Orange County Register to its newspaper assets. But the Department of Justice stepped in objecting to the acquisition, and so Digital First Media won the auction. DFM owns papers in Southern California including the Los Angeles Daily News and Long Beach Press Telegram.
But DFM is hardly on solid financial group. A year ago the chain, owned by the private equity firm Alden Global Capital, attempted to sell itself whole, but had to back away when no seller interested in its dispersed holdings came forward to bid on the entire company.
Given that layoffs usually following sales, it’s a good news/bad news kind of story.
There’s plenty more, after the jump. . . Continue reading