Dec 6, 2010

Furloughs and a vacation freeze for LANG papers

Employees in the Los Angeles Newspaper Group's nine papers learned today that they will be once again lose vacation time and be forced to take unpaid furloughs days as part of an effort to cut costs.

Fred Hamilton, CEO and publisher of LANG, sent a memo today outlining the details. The vacation freeze starts today and will last until March 2011. For employees who earn two weeks of vacation a year, the freeze will cost them 3 days of vacation. It's 6 days for those earning four weeks per year.

The furloughs begin in January. Employees will be forced to take ten days off by mid March. Furlough days are unpaid unless employees choose to use up vacation time - a tough choice considering the freeze.

Hamilton blames lower than expected advertising revenues for the cuts. The memo does not mention layoffs, although Hamilton said some vacancies will remain unfilled and he alluded to consolidations, which could refer to a recent decision to merge the business departments of LANG and its sister chain in the north, the Bay Area News Group - some say the merger could result in the loss of 40 jobs. Hamilton ends the memo by saying said he regrets taking these actions, but warns of more drastic cuts if ad sales do not improve.

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

Any truth to the rumor LANG wants to pare the books so dean can make a try for Freedom papers and the OC Register? Stranger things have happened...

Anonymous said...

Don't be surprised if Singleton ends up with OCR. I don't think he wants all of Freedom. Freedom still has a lot of debt so they need to sell something. We'll see.

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas, LANG style.

Anonymous said...

Of course, you must mean March 2011....

Gary Scott said...

correct. and corrected.

Anonymous said...

the lambs continue to head to slaughter at lang. a few days a ago there was mention of this at bang, no surprise the virus came south to lang. who cares if singleton buys anything. he and his ship of fools can't run what they have.

advertising revenues aren't as expected? really? they can't sell, don't understand customers or how to organize and run a sales team, and they have no long term plan longer than today. they are filled with crap as their continued three to four years of downsizing and cuts continue.

revenues will not be going up. as stated over time, where will the improving revenue come from? classified...really! forget online, they are not compelling and won't be.

lang is sinking ever quicker in the tarpit and they still can't lift a leg up to help themselves...what a pity for those who still work of this group.

Anonymous said...

If advertising revenue is falling short then maybe the Advertising department should not have their department luncheons catered in trade. As well as the Executive Christmas party to be held at a “Publishers” house. I mean it’s a start, right? Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

No real surprise after reading the BANG announcement last week. Gotta wonder, though, how can they sell ads when the ad staff has been gutted like the rest of the LANG?

And even if a good sales team existed, they would face an uphill battle both with the economy and trying to convince advertisers to support the poor excuse for newspapers that the LANG products have become.

Anonymous said...

This is an honest question, no sarcasm intended. It's also not rhetorical. I genuinely want to hear answers.

For those of you who work at LANG, why do you stay? You're college educated professionals, you clearly have other job options, and the place seems to treat you horribly.

I can understand getting stuck somewhere for the short term due to unforeseen circumstances, but this treatment has been going on now for years.

Why hasn't everyone left?

Anonymous said...

I actually doubt there are a lot of job options. The L.A. market has to be saturated with former journalists, and marketing/public relations/corporate communications departments tend to be on the small side with low turnover. And it's not like they can just go to another newspaper in Southern California.

Anonymous said...

Ho...Ho...Ho... or should I say, Ha...Ha...Ha... Told you so. These lying sacks of *^@# give you promises and then pull the rug right from under you. Same thing over again. Why won't you saps learn not to believe iota of what they tell you. Go do Patch websites. Pay is probably better and you don't have to deal with people like those in change at LANG-Lies And Never-ending Gloom.

Merry Xmas to you and yours!

Anonymous said...

Lies And Never-ending Gloom - That sums it up for LANG.

Answer to the "Why not leave" question: Because everyone there is complacent. They have no ambition. They stay because they just want to fly under the radar until they retire or get canned. They could care less about quality as long as they put something out. They gave up on themselves years ago and are just working to make a living.

They are all happy to be treated like crap for the meager salary they get. They are subsidizing this sinking ship by regularly working overtime without being compensated, by driving their cars into the ground without proper mileage being paid and by the many other little things they do on their personal dime so the boss does fly off his handle with a barrage of expletives.

Merry Xmas to you and yours.

Anonymous said...

2:26 hit it right on the nose.

Gary Scott said...

Nonsense. You can't paint people with such a broad brush and even come close to being accurate.

http://reporter-g.blogspot.com/2009/05/broken-ladders.html

Anonymous said...

There are people in this company who are complacent. But there are many others who are not.
How dare you talk down to us like we're dirt beneath your feet!
I have been in this business for 19years. I believe my job is to cover news and write local stories for the people who still buy or read the paper.
I have never had a decent paycheck since I started but I didn't choose this profession for the money. Did you?
Yeah my days are numbered. I don't need you to remind me of that.
And yes, I have been looking for another job for the past two years. NOTHING so far. Do you have one lined up for me? I didn't think so.
Are you going to pay for my law school? I don't think so.

Anonymous said...

tough times and some good people stay...understandable.

but, this crap of hamilton and his merry band of wizard's threats are laughable if they weren't so sad.

drastic cuts coming if ad sales don't improve. well, listen here, they won't be improving. i ask yet again, where will the improvement come from fred?

maybe you can re intro newspapers next. or, discount your current ads with the promise of free space, or, let those who know how to sell leave, or, fill in the blanks lang leaders. golly gee people, what the hell are you bringing to the party but dead space.

Larson E said...

Advertising revenues aren't as expected? That's what happens when you have advertising managers whose selling strategy is to drop prices drastically, give extra ads and switch revenue into the "product of the moment". Their focus is managing upward and their teams are floundering. A number of advertising reps, that I've spoken with, don't believe in the product now, it's dead or dying, and have been conditioned to sell on price not value. Things will not improve until you have leaders who understand the current market place and know how to train and motivate the reps on the street.

Anonymous said...

t's call profit sharing !

No sure each LANG employees should give away $1600-$2000 plus 1600-$2000 of vacation time so they can buy the OC Register !

In your review, has a Lang Lap Dog ever said " mmm I see here you never call in sick .. nice well here is your merit raise ! "

Take your sick time and use it ! and yes you Sports Dept. people !

Anonymous said...

this is a VERY interesting article. http://jxpaton.wordpress.com/2010/12/02/presentation-by-john-paton-at-inma-transformation-of-news-summit-in-cambridge-mass/

Anonymous said...

re: 12:55 am

Yeah, those sports writers are the worst offenders when it comes to working for free, just to watch the games. What will you have at the end of the day? Nothing but a slip of the pink, I mean a pink slip. Merry Xmas to all too.

Anonymous said...

yeah, it's really sad. heads are going to roll again. he will gut the LANG papers in order to buy the o.c. register. history repeats itself. unreal.

Anonymous said...

People continue to work for LANG because they believe in the importance of news and the editorial product. It has nothing to do with the economic model, which is clearly broken, or the corporate leadership, which is clearly misguided. But the editing and news management at LANG is among the strongest in the industry, and the papers manage to be good-to-excellent despite everything.

Anonymous said...

I left LANG some time ago and the last thing I want to do is insult the people who work hard everyday and struggle to put a paper with little resources - that's for the LANG suits to do.

I want to think that they are staying because, let's face it, there aren't many jobs out there.

Anonymous said...

Do you really think the papers are good to excellent? I guess we can agree to disagree here.

Anonymous said...

former LANG'er here. I think a lot of folks are still there because they had bad timing. they figured a few years in this crummy purgatory, build up some clips, and move on. next thing they know, the market crashes, Singleton blows hundreds of millions of borrowed dollars on buying the Daily Breeze and Merc and CC Times, and they're screwed. I was lucky enough to get in some good work and get out before it was too late.

Singleton could buy OCR, and we all know what would happen. their website would turn to crap and all the other centralized offices like copy desk and finance would just add one more paper to their overworked plates.

Anonymous said...

ad sales have "consistently been among the best of our peers" and yet they are so low that staff have to take two weeks off unpaid and will accrue no vacation for four months. tell me what world this makes sense in.

Anonymous said...

Note that Hamilton does not say revenues are "below expenditures" or anything else to indicate they're in the red. Just that revenues are "below budget." Singleton is notorious for demanding ridiculous returns and I suspect this is more of the same. He asked his cronies to return 10 percent, but they were in danger of only returning five percent, so good-bye vacation!

Anonymous said...

keep in mind this is all taking place after three straight years of layoffs, furloughs and major consolidations, like the central copy desk and moving the finance folks to the bay area. they've literally used every demoralizing cost-slashing move in the book, except alleviating the excess bloat at the editor-and-above level.

Anonymous said...

If this is a surprise to any of current or past lang employees, shame on you. You did or still do work for dolts. They have done nothing to improve sales in a few years. Anyone who knew how to sell or manage a sales team left a long time ago. The only creativity these dolts have is the ability to write memos that are full of crap, and, blame others for failure. When the economy turns around it won't make much of a difference at lang because they don't know how to take advantage of it. Papers their size and with their slant on failure will do just that. There is no rainbow here.

Anonymous said...

1. Bend over.
2. Insert head between legs.
3. Kiss your ass goodbye.
4. Repeat 1-3 above.

That kind of sums up Lang's creativity.

Mike Rappaport said...

It always amazes me that people are critical of folks who still work for LANG. It's as if there are all sorts of job options for journalists, and everybody can work wherever they want.

If you've got a family and bills to pay, you work. And most people work at places they don't like for bosses they don't like.

I will never disrespect anyone for working.

Former PTer said...

I'm glad I left LANG while I could. I won't disrespect any of the current LANG workers because it's hard to find a job (especially a journalism degree job) in the current market. But If possible, get out of LANG and MNG's deathgrip ASAP! It's been getting worse year after year for employees there and will get worse.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the above two posts. Working is better than not working. Working elsewhere than Lang is even better. Most firms are and have been in tough times which requires tough and sometimes painful decisions. Lang needs to learn how to communicate those tough decisions as well as learning how to make better ones.

Anonymous said...

I desperately want to agree with Mike Rappaport, but I just can't.

I have no standing to criticize those who continue to work for MNG. They alone are responsible for the consequences of their decisions.

But I also cannot relate to or sympathize with them in any way.
For many years the company treated it's employees poorly. For the last several, it has treated them deplorably.

There are many job opportunities out there for MNG workers to escape to. I know because I looked for them and I escaped.

The majority of those who remain are there by choice or inaction.

They will continue to be furloughed and see their pay and benefits slashed until they are laid off or opt to leave.

Dean Singleton isn't going to change his strategy to improve his employees' lives. They must do that on their own.

Anonymous said...

you and mike make good points. it is by choice or inaction that people stay...if you really need to leave because of pay, benefits, opportunity, get out and look and make something happen. in the meantime, keep your head down. there aren't enough fairy godmothers in all the world to change lang.