Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Fuzzy math?... McClatchy is nowhere near the 1,600 layoffs it announced (updated 3/20)

Although McClatchy announced it would lay off 1,600 employees -- and also filed documents with the SEC using the same figure -- it is now clear that unless it plans to shut down a couple of its papers, McClatchy will not come anywhere near laying off 1,600 employees.

With just a handful of newspapers yet to release their layoff numbers, the total number of layoffs is approximately 1,140 -- more than 450 less the 1,600 announced.

Here is the tally of announced layoffs:

Anchorage Daily News 47 Alaska
Merced Sun-Star 10 California
The Fresno Bee 63 California
The Modesto Bee 40 California
The Sacramento Bee 128 California
The San Luis Obispo Tribune 7 California
Bradenton Herald 15 Florida
El Nuevo Herald Florida not yet announced
The Miami Herald 205 Florida (175 laid off, 30 vacant positions eliminated)
Ledger-Enquirer 20 Georgia
The Telegraph 18 Georgia
Idaho Statesman 25 Idaho
Belleville News-Democrat 30 Illinois (includes 12 p.t. and 3 vacant)
The Wichita Eagle 14 Kansas
Lexington Herald-Leader Kentucky not yet announced
Sun Herald 9 Mississippi
The Kansas City Star 150 Missouri
The Charlotte Observer North Carolina not yet announced
The News & Observer 78 North Carolina
Centre Daily Times 3 Pennsylvania
The Beaufort Gazette and Island Packet South Carolina = 17 total
The Herald 6 South Carolina
The State 38 South Carolina
The Sun News 20 South Carolina
Fort Worth Star-Telegram 130
The Bellingham Herald 10 Washington
The News Tribune 30 Washington
The Olympian 15 Washington
Tri-City Herald 3 Washington
McClatchy Interactive 9 North Carolina
DC Bureau not yet announced
Corporate office no layoffs announced, CEO pay cut 15%, exec pay cut 10%, no announced layoffs or furloughs or demotions

Total layoffs: 1,140

Some of the numbers above (210 at The Miami Herald for example) include vacant positions eliminated. It is possible announcements at some of the papers didn't include vacant positions that will not be filled. Also, the numbers here don't include layoffs that happened when printing operations were closed down. I'll be reviewing these numbers and will note employees laid off in 2009 when printing operations were closed.

UPDATE: Number of layoffs at Fort Worth Star Telegram upped to 130 based on the figure here.
.
.
.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

When the Olympian moved to Tacoma they only anounced 8 lost jobs in the press when in fact all of mailroom and some folks from other departments also lost there jobs. must of been like 30 folks.

The same thing is happening now, if any manager is reading this please explain why not all jobs are accounted for in the press releases.

Anonymous said...

A lot of the papers are going from 40 to 37.5 hours/week. That's 2.5 hours/week - spread that out over say, 4000 people, you get 10,000 hours per week or 520,000 hours per year which is equal to almost 267 people. They're most likely using FTE numbers which uses it's own kind of math.

Anonymous said...

The filing with the SEC does read, "(b) The McClatchy Company (the “Company”) has announced plans to reduce its workforce by approximately 15%, or 1,600 full-time equivalent employees". An HR person might know for sure, but wage cuts might also count towards a reduction in FTE. So, I don't think you can count numbers of layoffs and know what the FTE is.

Anonymous said...

Okay...AGAIN..does anyone have a pen this time?

There is more coming within the time period MNI has to accomplish their plan.

More layoffs, outsourcing, overseasing, consolidation, attrition........

Any reporters/bloggers out there doing any investigation under their own roof but in other departments of the paper?

Anonymous said...

I really think that when you add layoffs, unfilled positions, wage and hour cuts, I think they're closing in on the 1600.

McClatchy Watch said...

6:03 -- Including "wage reductions" in the 1,600 figure is a ridiculous.

The SEC filing refers to "headcount reductions" which is a reduction of an employee or else a vacant position.

Anonymous said...

The Charlotte Observer will have between 100-150. That includes layoffs and unfilled positions being cancelled.

Anonymous said...

Anyone heard anything out of Lexington ...these sleepless nights are getting old.

Anonymous said...

what diff does it make what they're saying? they'll do what they want, went they want, to whom they want, in the manner they want.

Anonymous said...

Okay, this is a classic example of where blogs that attempt to be journalistically sound fail. You declare at the top of your original post: "... it is now clear that unless it plans to shut down a couple of its papers, McClatchy will not come anywhere near laying off 1,600 employees."

And yet clarity eludes you. Because at the bottom of your post you offer caveats a'plenty, saying, "It is possible announcements at some of the papers didn't include vacant positions that will not be filled. Also, the numbers here don't include layoffs that happened when printing operations were closed down. I'll be reviewing these numbers and will note employees laid off in 2009 when printing operations were closed."

So at the top of the post you basically suggest McClatchy is, at worst, lying, or at best, not being totally upfront about the numbers. Yet at the bottom of the post, you admit that the facts might not all be in yet. SEC filings can be, indeed, tricky documents.

While your desire to set the final record straight is commendable, an editor would have cautioned you not to hype a conclusion when the facts weren't there to support it.

The key point: You might argue that the thread of a blog -- as more readers offer their two cents -- provides the context and cautions that point to what is ultimately "true." But the original poster has an obligation to be circumspect. Otherwise, he risks showcasing lazy reporting and/or wishful thinking.

Your enthusiasm for the possible death of McClatchy is breath-taking. As a reader, sometimes I wonder if you've allowed the oxygen to leave the room.

JAT said...

10:46, would you have preferred if the OP had fished around for a "closing papers" quote from some no-quite arms length source and then presented that as an objective take on the situation?

That is the status quo form of journalism practiced at far too many papers, MNI included.

You make a fair point about construction and clarity, but what defines lazy, herd reporting and wishful thinking more than some recent examples from McClatchy's editors and reporters?

To the topic at hand, how many MNI biz reporters have dialed up Pruitt's office to get some clarification on where the company stands vis-a-vis the 1600 number?

None that we can see.

McClatchy Watch said...

10:46 -- your misunderstanding of blogging and the internet -- you must be a print journalist? -- is classic.

In my "Fuzzy Math?" post I threw out the basic facts -- the numbers released by MNI -- pointed out they don't add up, and invited readers to respond and offer explanations.

Read through the comments posted on this blog over the past days and you will find more information than the editors and fact-checkers and geniuses at McClatchy have published about developments at their own company.

I'm amazed so many print journalists in 2009 are still clueless about blogging and the internet.

Anonymous said...

Okay, this is a classic example of where blogs that attempt to be journalistically sound fail.


======

Speaking of clarity and failure, you my sanctimonious windbag of self righteous indignation, really need a copy editor. Then off yourself in disgrace.

Never, I mean never, ever again critique anyone else's writing again and make us all look like fools.

Anonymous said...

In Bradenton, there were 15 positions eliminated, but we were told only 8 of them were layoffs - making it that much harder to get to 1,600.

Anonymous said...

In all the press releases about layoffs though, it begins by saying XX paper will layoff XX people or XX% of the workforce... Then toward the bottom of all the notes it says XX paper WILL ALSO implement wage reductions, furloughs, etc...

If they are including wage reductions, the releases they send out are very misleading. And if they did include wage reductions and such, wouldn't we be well over 1,600 employees by now?

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:46

Your overly critical stance is unwarranted and, more importantly, it is a buzz kill.

Anonymous said...

Never, I mean never, ever again critique anyone else's writing again and make us all look like fools.
-----------------
OK. Then allow me to do the critique.

10:46's post is grammatically and structurally sound. On the other hand, 3:24's use of the word "sanctimonious" cannot disguise that post's horribly misplaced commas or needless repetition of the word "again."

It is 3:24 that needs a copy editor, and he is doing a perfectly good job making himself look foolish on his own.

Anonymous said...

You definitely need to add in the print operation numbers. At some papers those take the layoffs up significantly and those changes have not yet happened -- those people will be losing their jobs in the coming weeks as those new print agreements go into effect.

Anonymous said...

@ 10:46

Right you are. For a long time, this blog has skewed the few facts it gathers and ginned up the worst possible interpretation. (Not that things aren't bad enough on their own.)

When there are no facts, it resorts to paranoid political jibes.

Many -- most -- bloggers don't really understand how to gather and present information, so they just throw up what little gobbets they have, mixed with opinion and declare it a new age for journalism. But logging is just a form, like a briefs string or a wire report. The journalistic values of fairness and fact-checking are eternal, and are the only route to credibility.

Often, when I wonder whether newspaper values are outdated, I think about this blog. Imagine it as the prime source of information about the company. What a weird and skewed view you'd have. The paper medium may not survive forever, but people will soon be paying for a report that stands out from the amateurism and strives for truth.

Anonymous said...

Further, consider the note above the comment box: "Realize that not every rumor posted in comments is gospel truth."

So, if I understand McClatchy Watch's interpretation of the wonders of citizen journalism, it goes like this:

The blogger posts undigested information whose meaning isn't yet clear, tosses in a few caveats, and counts on the commenters to create the clarity. But he warns that not everything in the comments can be considered the truth.

This leaves us where? Nowhere. And I'm still waiting for a yeoman citizen journalist to start covering the boring stuff in my neck of the woods, like the city council or the school board, or routine crime.

Anonymous said...

The paper medium may not survive forever, but people will soon be paying for a report that stands out from the amateurism and strives for truth.




You all are just pathetic. You have the nerve to talk about skewing, truth and professionalism after making a mockery of your of yourselves and trashing your business to the point that a person cannot even mention in public where they work.

Ride your high horses folks. It makes your fall so much sweeter.

Anonymous said...

Not a high horse at all. It's simply a recognition that there's a market for reliable information.

We're not talking about truth with a capital T. It's just really hard to uncover facts, even basic ones, like the correct spelling of a name. And it takes professional discipline to do unpleasant reporting jobs, like talking to victims' families and the like. Most people can't do it, and won't.

But I do believe that by careful devotion to small facts, big truths emerge. I have a lot of respect for this craft.

Anonymous said...

"1,600 full-time equivalent employees"

If a company has to eliminate the equivalent of 10 employees, and the equivalent salary of 1 employee equals $50,000, then company needs to shed $500,000 in salary. If the company eliminates five positions which pay $100,000 each, then the company has made its cuts of 10 full-time equivalents by cutting only five positions.

Therefore, your headline is incorrect.

Said McClatchyWatch: "I'm amazed so many print journalists in 2009 are still clueless about blogging and the internet."

One of the great things about blogs is that it's so easy to fix errors.

Unless, of course, McClatchyWatch is amazed at her/his own cluelessness.

Many of us certainly are.

Try out that strikethru function, genius.

Anonymous said...

people actually believe that these blogs are a replacement for real news?

....lol....

you think the liberals were bad...

McClatchy Watch said...

9:31 -- You want to include wage cuts as part of the FTE calculation.

I don't buy it. The press release and the SEC filing both refer to wage cuts as "additional savings" -- not part of the FTE calculation.

John Altevogt said...

Speaking as a consumer, no we don't think that blogs are a replacement for "real news". But they are an attempt to fill the void on the "real news" that the establishment media chooses not to cover (like the Kansas City Star ignoring the bloodbath inside its own walls).

That's not a slap at "liberal" reporters, since I've had reporters turn me on to stories they weren't being allowed to cover knowing that I'd figure out a way to get them some publicity.

It is a slap at the Art Brisbanes and the Mark Ziemans of the world who run their shops under a model more reminiscent of socialist realism than the standard American model.

Thanks to their deliberate attempts to cover-up the news blogs like this and Bottom Line are doing a phenomenal job of trying to fill the gaps that they create with their Stalinist mentality.

My sympathies go out to the reporters (those who still have jobs) who are chomping at the bit to commit acts of journalism and are being thwarted by the likes of the aforementioned Stalinists (in fairness, Brisbane is no longer doing much in that direction since he is now a "consultant" nod, nod, wink, wink).

If "real news" is the goal of the establishment, explain to me the logic of those being selected for termination over those being selected for retention because I guarantee you it has nothing to do with providing"real news".

Anonymous said...

"the news blogs like this and Bottom Line are doing a phenomenal job"

BottomLieCom.com has at least a third of the job titles on his list incorrect.

But at least he hasn't announced any living person's death yet today. So, phenomenal job, BottomLieCom.com!

Anonymous said...

McClatchy Watch, 10:46 here. Well, I guess my point didn't sink in, so let me try again.

You retort: "In my 'Fuzzy Math?' post I threw out the basic facts -- the numbers released by MNI -- pointed out they don't add up, and invited readers to respond and offer explanations."

But you also stated as a basic fact: "... it is now clear that unless it plans to shut down a couple of its papers, McClatchy will not come anywhere near laying off 1,600 employees." Did you not?

Then you go on to contradict yourself. You suggest that there were nuances to the numbers ... that, in fact, it was not so clear. By logical extension, then, McClatchy might NOT need to "shut down a couple of its papers" to hit the 1,600 number.

My point: You exaggerate at the top of your post, and then you qualify further down. That's misleading, pure and simple.

Blogging and the internet do not give you license to mislead. There are hundreds of bloggers out there doing outstanding work, and they are guided by fact-finding, accuracy and fairness. Not ideology and a rush to judgment.

I'd be the first to admit that McClatchy's newsrooms, or the New York Times, or the Washington Post (or whatever other "liberal" news-gatherer you'd name) have had the same problem. For balance, let's throw in the Wall Street Journal, too.

So why are you doing it?

I also wish these properties would be more tenacious about reporting on their own upheavals.

But that doesn't give you cover to be slipshod as well.

To dismiss this criticism as evidence of my "misunderstanding of blogging and the internet" is assumptive. You have no idea of my experience regarding blogs and the internet.

But that's besides the point -- a way to ignore the criticism, which was: You overreached, and apparently you can't admit it.

6:59 has it right: "... there's a market for reliable information." Thank goodness.

And to 4:58 ... I know it's tough when the facts (or waiting to know what the facts really are) get in the way of your buzz. I'm sorry.

Anonymous said...

I know your Sun News numbers are wrong. We've lost at least 60 so far, and have another 70 gone in 2 weeks. I bet if you re-check some of your numbers, they will pass the 1600mark