Monday, March 16, 2009

Anger in Raleigh

The latest word out of Raleigh is that anger is building over the dysfunctional and destructive way the cuts are being managed. A tipster informs me mangers at the News & Observer were recently told nothing would happen for two weeks. Then, corporate called -- as late as this morning -- and ordered the plan into effect.

Firings are expected to commence sometime this week, under a "last hired, first fired" policy.

Staff believe the news gathering operation at the N&O will be damaged because some of the last hired writers are the best writers and are the most productive.

The mood at the N&O is said to be "mutinous." The source says people are openly talking about seceding from McClatchy since the N&O is making a profit. Resentment at the corporate decision makers is off the charts.

"If Pruitt was to show his face here I doubt he would make it out of the building in one piece," the source said.


Anonymous said...

"Secede" how, exactly?

Anonymous said...


JAT said...

How indeed.

It is so cute when those who have ignored financial fundamentals for years suddenly decide to have big ideas.

Having said that, if MNI could've sold off the Carolinas operation to willing buyers, I assume it would have.

Oh, that's right, this is Pruitt and co. -- probably not. Bottomline, any potential new owner will wait for bankruptcy.

Anonymous said...

Well, they are in a former Confederate state. And you know how well that turned out last time. They'll do it with heapin' helpins of that Southern hospitality, I guess. It's too late - prepare the lifeboats!

Anonymous said...

Must be no room in the inn in Raleigh.

Any babes in swaddling clothes?

Anonymous said...

MEMO TO: All Employees

FROM: Orage Quarles III

DATE: March 16, 2009

SUBJECT: Staffing and Wage Reductions

A week ago, when our parent company announced that further expense savings and staff reductions were necessary, we promised to communicate specifics about our plans as soon as possible. Today, we are announcing staff reductions and other expense savings.

Over the next several weeks, The News & Observer will reduce its workforce by 78 positions, or 11% of all employees. These reductions affect most areas of our operation. Some positions will be eliminated through layoffs, and some departments will have opportunities for employees in certain work groups of two or more to accept a voluntary severance package. If enough employees do not take the voluntary option, work groups will be reduced according to length of employment.

The employees who are affected are being told today and given information about a transition package. We appreciate all that these coworkers and friends have done for The N&O, and we will make their transition as smooth as possible.

Please know that we are doing all we can to lower our expenses and minimize the need to eliminate jobs. We are reducing our newsprint use whenever possible without affecting our core content. Later this year, we will convert our presses to a 44-inch web and print a narrower version of our papers, which will also reduce newsprint expenses. We have expanded our community paper network, which serves several purposes, including a significant savings in our TMC mail costs. We are collaborating more with our colleagues in Charlotte and using technology wherever possible to create efficiencies. We have eliminated bonuses for the publisher and vice presidents for 2009.

We are taking two additional actions to reduce our payroll costs while preserving jobs. First, we will implement a graduated reduction in pay to take effect March 30, as follows:

Annualized Pay Percent Reduction

$25,000 - $49,999 2.5%
$50,000 - $99,999 5.0%
$100,000 and over 10.0%

Every employee will receive a letter with details about how their compensation is affected and will have the opportunity to ask questions.

Second, we are requiring most employees to take a one-week furlough between May 1 and October 31. Details about furlough logistics and procedures will be available the first week in April.

We are making our way through difficult times by making difficult decisions. It is never easy to say goodbye to so many of our friends and colleagues, but we must make these additional cuts to sustain our company and adjust to new competitive and economic realities.

I know the last several weeks have been distracting and disrupting, and I apologize for that. We can only ask, with utmost respect and gratitude for all that you do, that everyone stays focused and continues to work hard to help our company make its way through these hard times and success in the long run.

Please contact human resources if you have questions about the severance program, wage reductions or furlough. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

"Last hired first fired" - Really?? Even though NC is a right-to-work state?

Anonymous said...

This just mean that Charlotte will do the exact same thing within the next week or so. Let's all give it up for the Leadership, OOPS!, I mean "Follow"ship team.

Anonymous said...

it is rather unfair that McClatchey is looting the profitable papers to try and fund the duds. Rebellion can be a good thing, but if the publisher there is like the weasel in Kansas City, don't look for desperate acts of integrity.

Anonymous said...

John 11:18, please know that ALL the papers are being looted to prop up the family's desire to stave off bankruptcy. Everyone's cuts now and cash flow later are needed to feed the greed. I work for a paper you might call a "dud" because of our results during the the economic downturn and I can tell you we are taking a proportionately bigger hit because of that underperformance.

Anonymous said...

Seattle PI goes online only. Last print edition tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Those on the way out should check out They're new, currently all volunteer and still getting they're sh*t together, but could be a good alternative.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Pruitt could walk into any of the newspapers under his reign and walk out the door in one piece. He has got to be one of the least respected, most distructive and ridiculously stupid corporate leaders I have ever seen. I am ashamed of what he has turned our paper into and the damage he has done to our local area. We too were a profitable paper and instead of leaving us alone, he scalped us to save the fat cat bloated "sister" paper. File bancrupcy already!!!! Get it over with.

Anonymous said...

FYI-- I am still loving the "desperate acts of integrity" comment!

Anonymous said...

@Anon 9:36 - No, pitchforks and torches. Then tar and feathers.