Will it ever end?
The latest cutbacks – both now and coming soon – to the Kansas City Star: another round of employee furloughs (forced, unpaid vacations) and a shrinking of the newspaper’s print edition sometime between now and the end of spring.
Star publisher Mi-Ai Parrish unleashed the not unexpected furlough news this morning in a memo to staffers.
“As we make turn into 2013, we continue to see some signs of economic uncertainty, and our revenue projections, although improving, continue to track below prior year,” Parrish wrote.
Hold it right there…
Revenue projections are “improving” in the slow first / post holiday quarter and below last year? How does that translate into things getting better?
Look, if the economy gets fully back on track, things will most certainly improve at 18th and Grand.
However the real reason for the past four years of layoffs and cutbacks isn’t the economy stupid, it’s the ongoing demise of print publications.
The costs in print are sky high – hence shrinking of the paper – but so are the profits. Online profits continue to improve, but don’t come close to making up for the drop in readership and ad revenues on the print side.
But back to the future…
Today’s furloughs require “most full-time employees” and “all senior team members” to take a week off with out pay in the first half of the year.
Why the first half?
Hello, that leaves the second half of the year available for a second round of furloughs.
Which brings us to what used to pass for morale at the newspaper…
“Everybody there says the same thing,” says a former staffer with close ties to surviving Star newsies. “It’s just a fucking death march – it’s just awful. Why do you think they’re jumping ship? They’re all trying to get the fuck out of there.
“They have to work too hard and they never have time to have any fun. They used to be able to sit around and think of story ideas, but now they’re always working.”