Nothing like being A over Tea Kettle in a financial freefall….
That pretty much describes the current state affairs in of the newspaper industry. Publishers continue to talk of better days ahead – after our long, national nightmare – the coming-soon, double dip recession. Which naively ignores the long term downward prospects of the print news industry.
Bringing us to the mandatory one week staff furloughs announced at the Star.
They went down this week as both suggested and predicted by KC Confidential. With a 32 percent earnings drop in its 2nd quarter, McClatchy had to make some serious cuts. No question. But forcing Parrish to do the dirty work one month into her KC Star honeymoon would have placed her in a very unsavory position.
Getting rid of two highly paid columnist positions was likely a savings. Especially given the axing of one.
Now let’s do some math on the furloughs. Which are forced, unpaid, one-week vacations. Vacations that have to be taken between now and year’s end.
Let’s say 500 staffers take paycheck-free weeks. That’s the approximate equivalent of laying off (and not having to pay) 10 staff members for a year. Pretty darn good savings for the Star and nobody’s career comes crashing to an end.
How it went over today with the news staff?
"Well, people were kind of just expecting it," says one higher up. "But in general people were glad because before we’d get furloughs and job cuts and this time we didn’t have any job cuts. Everybody says that they’d rather have the furloughs than a job cut – they’d rather have two furloughs than a job cut."
And while no additional cuts are known to have been made, "They cut our 401(k)s a couple years ago," says a Star staffer. "The company stopped matching the contributions."
As for not replacing axed Local Section columnists with actual columnists, "I agree," says the staffer. "It’s so lame."