Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Kansas City Star publisher announces furloughs, "voluntary separation program," and continued wage freeze

Email sent from Mark Zieman:

To all employees:

As you saw from its recent earnings report, McClatchy is making solid progress navigating through this recession and transitioning into a true multimedia company. But the economy remains dicey and we continue to experience revenue declines. So we must remain focused on controlling costs until we see measurable, sustainable revenue improvement.

To that end, McClatchy and The Star are announcing three initiatives to keep the company financially strong as we end 2009:

McClatchy is extending the current wage freeze for all employees (including those at corporate) at least through December of this year. While we hope to restore merit increases in 2010, much will depend on how quickly revenues rebound and how our own budget looks going into next year.

I know this is a hardship, and I very much appreciate the sacrifices all Star employees have made to keep our company strong and safely above water during this economic storm. Please know that the entire senior team is committed to lifting the salary freeze as soon as financially possible.

I’m sorry to inform you that The Star will be joining many other companies and newspapers across the country by instituting a one-week unpaid furlough program for most employees. The furlough period will run through the remainder of this year. Next week, you will be receiving a scheduling form to complete and return to your manager, and a Q&A to assist you in understanding how the program works.

Human Resources also will be holding meetings to review the program and answer questions.

While the documents are fairly detailed, we want you to have the opportunity to get answers to any additional questions you might have. The meeting dates will be announced soon.
Finally, we will be offering a Voluntary Separation Program to the majority of regular, full-time employees at The Star. We are doing this because many employees continue to express interest in a voluntary program during this time of industry transition, and because we want to put The Star in the best financial position possible going into 2010.

We have not established a quota or target for this voluntary program, but we expect it to be considerably less than the last round of involuntary cuts. As usual, we will limit or exclude eligibility in certain departments and divisions, especially revenue areas, based on business needs and so that no one area or department is unfairly impacted. We also will exclude positions where we do not see further opportunities to streamline, consolidate or transfer work. Those employees eligible for this program will be receiving individual packets today, and HR will be holding meetings this Wednesday and Thursday in the Press Pavilion to discuss this voluntary program and answer any questions you may have.

As your publisher, I am deeply sorry to announce the furlough and continued wage freeze. I know how discouraging this news may be, especially on top of the cuts and consolidations we have already faced together during this recession. We are working as hard as we can to position the company for long-term success and to minimize further impact on employees.

I can tell you that because of your dedication and talent, we are seeing improvements in many areas across The Star. We continue to be leaders in McClatchy and across the industry in online revenue and growth, we have a strong portfolio of magazines, commercial print customers and other niche products, and we’ve launched successful new programs aimed at boosting advertiser frequency and new business in our core newspaper. In fact, June and July were our strongest months so far this year in advertising revenue compared to 2008. So trends appear to be stabilizing and possibly improving.

The moves announced today, coupled with current trends, should put us in the strongest position possible entering next year. My thanks to each of you for everything you’ve done to keep The Star safe. Your efforts during this difficult time have been nothing short of outstanding and will benefit Star readers and advertisers for generations to come.

If you have any questions about this note or other compensation issues, please contact Chris Piwowarek in Human Resources.



Mark Zieman

Thanks to the readers who sent this to me.



Anonymous said...

We're doing good! The earnings report proves it.....and BTW, I'm sorry to say......

This is almost funny. Anyone know if the Church of Scientology is hiring? I'm a highly trained propagandist.

Anonymous said...

About that August raise we've been hearing about...

Anonymous said...

Stock is way down today so there's more of these on the way. If you still work at McClatchy the question is "Why?"

Anonymous said...

[Snip] “opportunities to streamline, consolidate or ‘transfer work”

That ‘transfer work’ probably mean outsourcing. Behind the scenes ZeeClown says, “Can these slackers, ASAP, er, I mean when the empty suits say we Can-can”

Anonymous said...

We'll see how this works out. Last time they had voluntary layoffs several people volunteered and were told no. They were then fired.

Either way, it's time for me to blow this pop stand.

Anonymous said...

Was someone punping and dumping McClatchy stock this past month?

Anonymous said...

Finally, we will be offering a Voluntary Separation Program to the majority of regular, full-time employees at The Star.

Consider this a gift and get out while you can. The last thing you want is to end up like Mike Hendricks. Alone, isolated and begging for crumbs like a rat trapped in a cage.

Anonymous said...

My assumption is that the Star has one of the worst bottom lines because of the "Green Monster". (Printing Plant) Until that obligation is gotten rid of there will be continued reduction in both people and expenses. If McClatchy is looking at each newspaper as its own business unit then the Star could be hemorraging $$.

Anonymous said...

Don't feel bad.

You are among all of the other properties that received similar communications. Many of those same properties have had recent layoffs and already have "furlough weeks".

Sad to say, "welcome to the club".

Anonymous said...

With all these staff cuts do you think the product is getting better or worse?
Based on what you think of the quality of the newspaper product and the steep price increases already implemented, what do you think circulation numbers will do when they are announced?
Would you like to be selling ads in this environment?
Can they cut costs and product quality fast enough to keep earnings up? For how long?

Anonymous said...

I think some of you disgruntled people might better serve yourselves to utilize your negative energies and turn it all into positive energies and possibly make the paper you work for a vital, worthy product and look to the future. The griping is just ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Do you think the staff cuts and furloughs make it more likely that we can produce a "vital, worthy product"?

How about does management have a plan beyond cut staff as fast as we have to keep earning up regardless of the impact on readers or advertisers?

With the natural link between circulation and advertising, don't you think it's time that management comes out with a real plan that we can believe in?

This is not griping...it's just logical questions.

Anonymous said...

Quite the contrary. The Star had one of the best bottom lines. They were and I would guess still are in the black especially due to the severe cuts McClatchy implemented. Regardless of opinion about Mark Zieman he focused on budget cuts long before the bottom fell out when the economy was still halfassed decent. So The Star was in a pretty good place buffering up against the recession. However, what McClatchy says The Star has no choice but to execute. Sadly when the economy is good, good management doesn't really come into play. With systems already in place, companies practically run themselves. But when good management is needed, like now, the incompetence of people like Pruitt and other executives comes glaringly apparent.

Anonymous said...

They were and I would guess still are in the black especially due to the severe cuts McClatchy implemented.

The Star is not in the black. They have that great big red liability right up the street, that they couldn't make the payments on in a hundred years.

Anonymous said...

Re: “The griping is just ridiculous”
What you are labeling as griping; I read as getting helpful truth out to other employees. I really get tired of anyone saying comments are negative because they differ from what one person deems the correct suck-up thing to say. Let’s read it all. I am old enough to make up my own mind. The suppression of news has gone on too long. Let posters have their say without these snide remarks. Personal experiences are a valuable thing to share, IMO.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with the idea that in good times companies run themselves. They might appear to make their quarterly numbers on autopilot but running a company is far more than making the next quarter.
Good management looks ahead, around the corners to what is next. MNI has most definitely not had good management.

Anonymous said...

"Turn you Negative energies into positive energies" Really?

Someone has been spending way too much time with the HR consultant.

What a load!

If that passes for leadership in MNI world no wonder they are in the ditch.

Anonymous said...

Don’t forget, Zieman actually paid for his wife's Rhonda ‘Three Wheels’ Lokeman's racist rants from KC Star funds. After her DUI arrest, the scandal grew too large to ignore. Btw, we can thank bloggers for the Lokeman gone wild news, not the KC Red Star & Sickle. Who could possible trust him to save the newspaper? He is a wimpy little man that can’t even register to vote correctly. MOO

Anonymous said...

"Turn you Negative energies into positive energies" Really?

Sounds like Lokeman desperate to make sure her white whiner keeps bringing home the ripple.

Anonymous said...

So many scumbags on this blog, so much slime.

Anonymous said...

9:17 PM Sad isn't it. We keep asking to have you deleted on sight because you can't do anything other than tell lies and call people names, however the blog master refuses to do it.

Tel est la guerre.

Anonymous said...

Everything I read here is usually extremely slanted to the right. Some of you who rant that everyone should have a voice, has a thin skin when someone has a differing voice from you. I work for the newspaper; I understand the strengths of the newspaper in our lives. I also understand the changes in technology and society that are seriously questioning the survival of the newspaper. I want to continue working at the newspaper. Sorry, if I would like to use all that energy to help the newspaper survive instead of constantly berating everyone and everything about the newspaper. Don't tell me the slant isn't right and the slant isn't negative on this blog.

Anonymous said...

Don't tell me the slant isn't right and the slant isn't negative on this blog.

Why would anyone tell you that? Read the F(*king title of the blog genius. Of course it is negative against McClatchy. It tells you that from the beginning. He also tells you that this is a conservative blog. They hate you. Many of them think you deserve much more than just unemployment.

Anonymous said...

5:12. I do believe that you understand a lot of what is going on in the market climate that newspapers face. It's certainly true that there are severe challenges with the generational changes in reading habits the rise of competing technologies that undercut the most profitable segments of the newspapers revenue and a difficult economic climate to boot.

Many of the poster here also see a serious shift to the left in our local and national papers. We feel disenfranchised and talked down to by "journalists" who know what is best for us.
In the last election and in the months since those feelings have boiled over as the MSM has become actively dishonest in what it covers and how.
A major part of the demise of the paper is self inflicted as half of the population has checked out on you as a reliable source of news. Advertisers no longer see the profit of associating their brand with the daily newspaper. The media, for much of America, no longer has credibility.

Pg1News said...

Glad I jumped ship when I did. Can't imagine who will be left by the end of the year to get a paper out everyday. Sad, sad, sad! All I can say to staffers is, Run, don't walk out the door when you're handed that manila envelope. And take your furlough time to line up another job!