BELLINGHAM - In response to the continued slowdown of the economy, The Bellingham Herald is undergoing a new round of layoffs along with wage cuts.UPDATE: After the layoffs, the The Bellingham Herald will be down to about 106 people.
Glen Nardi, president and publisher of Whatcom County's daily newspaper, announced the cutbacks on Monday, March 2, in the newsroom. There will be eight full-time equivalent positions eliminated, totaling 10 people. Salaries for most of the remaining workforce will be reduced by 2.5 percent or 5 percent, depending on the employees' salary range.
"The economy has gotten progressively worse, and we have to respond as a business," Nardi said.The Bellingham Herald is taking other steps to improve its bottom line.
The newspaper recently signed an agreement with the parent company of The Skagit Valley Herald to print the newspaper at Skagit's new plant, starting some time this year, and is currently negotiating the sale of the building to a local buyer. If the sale is completed, The Bellingham Herald staff would remain in the Herald Building at least five years through a lease, Nardi said.
This is the second announced round of layoffs for the company. In June, 10 percent of the workforce was cut, totaling about 13 people. After the current round of layoffs, the Herald will have about 106 employees.
Nardi said the cuts come as The Bellingham Herald continues to develop into a new media company, which includes expanding its online presence. He noted that January 2009 was a record month for online readers, particularly during the floods early in the month.
While online readership has grown, the overall revenues of the paper started seeing a decline in January 2008. As the overall economy worsened, that trend continued through the first two months of this year.
"It (the online viewership growth) is very encouraging, but it will still take time to develop as we deal with this difficult economy," Nardi said.