Jul 29, 2008

Pressed enterprise, part two

Citing weak profits and a "bleak" financial outlook, A.H. Belo Corporation announced this week that it plans to cut 14 percent of its workforce. Last night, employees at the Press-Enterprise in Riverside got a clearer picture of what that will mean for them.

According to a memo from CEO and Publisher Ron Redfern, job cuts will initially be made through "voluntary severance" offers. However, the company has not said exactly how many employees need to take the buyout. If not enough people leave voluntarily, Redfern warns, an "involuntary reduction in force with a lesser severance package" will follow.

In addition, the paper plans to shrink the width of the print edition, cut down on the use of wire and syndicate services, make its Newspapers in Education program online only, reduce circulation in outlying areas, and outsource some portion of its ad services. (Here's what the company is telling its investors and shareholders.)

From the Redfern memo:

Unfortunately, the outlook for the foreseeable future over the next 12 to 18 months continues to remain bleak for our business, particularly on the revenue front.


· We will be implementing action plans to further conserve newsprint and reduce distribution and circulation expenses. These will include reducing our current web width from 48” to 46,” cutting back circulation in the Desert, and moving NIE from print to solely an online service. These initiatives and others will provide significant cost savings.

· On the news and content side for print and online we will be reducing syndicate and wire services, consolidating business content resources, and continuing to rethink entertainment content as well as structural changes in news and online we might make to reduce expenses and maintain optimum focus on local news coverage.

· We will be making changes in page layout and ad production, and realigning our production workflow to extend ad deadlines to reduce expenses and provide more selling time to capture additional revenue on a daily basis. And we will be looking at outsourcing more functions.

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