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Fort Worth Star Telegram Lays Off About 120 People

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It’s the Fort Worth Star Telegram’s turn today, as management announced that it would lay off 12 percent of its staff, or roughly 120 people, according to the Dallas Business Journal.

Publisher Gary Wortel also announced more bad news in the fact that they people who remain and making more than $25,000 a year will see a 2.5 percent to 10 percent wage cut.

Here is the text of Wortel’s memo, as posted on Romenesko:

To: All Employees
From: Gary Wortel
Subject: Workforce and Wage Reductions
Date: March 5, 2009

As you know, the Star-Telegram along with other McClatchy newspapers have been working for weeks on expense reduction plans to deal with the unprecedented revenue declines due to the economic recession. Unfortunately, because revenue declines have worsened since January, our expense reductions will be more severe than originally anticipated:

We will reduce our workforce by about 12% of all employees. Please know that we did everything possible to minimize the impact of layoffs as outlined in the other expense savings plans below. Reductions will occur in virtually all areas of our operation. Although some of these job eliminations will occur through involuntary layoffs, there also will be opportunities for employees to voluntarily select 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 according to least tenure. All affected will be notified today 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 package being offered is identical in terms to the ones that were offered last year.

We will implement a wage reduction for employees whose compensation exceeds $25,000 annually. $25,000 to $49,999 will receive a 2.5% reduction, $50,000 to $99,999 will receive a 5% reduction and over $100,000 will receive a 10% reduction. This applies to everyone, including myself, with the exception of some operational employees, who will rec eive reduced work hours. We will be providing you with a letter outlining your current pay and what your pay will be when the reduction goes into effect. The letter will be distributed no later than March 20th. These wage reductions will be effective with the pay period beginning April 6, 2009. Your first paycheck to have the wage reduction will be April 24, 2009.

Senior management bonuses have been eliminated for 2009 and advertising sales management compensation is being reduced.

We are also planning for a one-week unpaid furlough program in the 2nd half of 2009. We are hopeful that business will improve and we can avoid having to implement this, but we think it’s important you know it’s a possibility. If implement ed, details will be provided at a later date.

Finally, as a reminder, McClatchy announced on Feb. 5 its decision to significantly reduce operating expenses as a result of ongoing and unprecedented economic pressures and revenue declines. The company announced a freeze of the company’s pension plans and the temporary suspension of the 401(k) company match. Both take effect March 31, 2009.

These are difficult decisions, especially when it means saying goodbye to so many friends and colleagues. But we must make these expense reductions to protect the financial health of the newspaper, adjust to economic challenges and remain competitive.

We also must make major strides in growing revenues. Just last week we announced the launch of our new free entertainment publication, DFW.com Ink Edition. The product will publish weekly starting in April and is expected to produce significant ad revenues. We’re also seeing great success in our behavioral targeting sales efforts utilizing a new ad platform technology. More of these efforts are needed for us to succeed long term.

We know these repeated announcements about the need to reduce expenses and restructure our business are difficult and disruptive, but we ask for your continued focus during these challenging circumstances. Your contributions and dedication are the keys to our future.

Human resources will be setting up informational meetings in the next few days and will also be available to answer any questions about the severance program or wage reductions.

Gary Wortel
Publisher
Star-Telegram

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Written by newscycle

March 5, 2009 at 3:24 pm

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