Monday, April 30, 2007
Sent: Monday, April 30, 2007 10:54 AM
Subject: Announcing March Circulation Results
We announced our circulation numbers for the most recent six months, and I’d call them relatively positive. Our daily individually paid circulation INCREASED a tick to 779,256. Individually paid includes home delivery and single copy sales (it excludes “Other Paid” circulation to hotels, Times in Education). We focus on individually paid because it is the audience reflecting most value to readers and advertisers. Total daily circulation declined 4.2% as we continued to reduce “Other Paid” circulation. I expect our daily individually paid numbers will be among the best in the industry, including among papers in our market.
Sunday circulation was softer than we would have liked. Individually paid was down 3.6% to 1,159,844 and total Sunday circulation was down 4.7% including reductions in “Other Paid” circulation. We are working to get a better trend on Sunday.
All in all, we remain the largest and best-reach media vehicle in Southern Cal. In an age of fragmenting media, that’s still saying a lot. Our press release, which you can see on Timeslink also calls attention to all the new print and online features we have been offering to readers and users, including the new Image, Travel, and Sunday Business sections.
Speaking of connecting to readers, I hope many of you had a chance to be at the Festival of Books this past weekend and the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes on Friday night, all held on the magnificent UCLA campus. It was inspiring, moving and exhilarating to be celebrating reading and writing with well over 100,000 of our friends and neighbors. It is a wonderful thing that The Times does for the community, and I was so proud and moved to hear from so many people how much this means and what a positive thing it is. It was a total company effort, like most of our great moments. I will get a separate note out to thank everybody involved – it was a big number of our colleagues. A great reminder of why we do what we do, and how it touches and lifts up our community.
SOURCE: Los Angeles Times Management
I would like to thank everyone that has taken advantage of the Friends and Family offer, and if you have not subscribed and would be interested in fifty percent off the regular monthly rate just follow this link to subscribe using my employee number 051627.
Just follow this link to create an account.
Montreal-based Transcontinental Printing has ordered three presses that it will use to print the Chronicle starting on May 1, 2009. As the Press Club reported in November, the Chronicle plans to get out of the printing business when its current contract with Teamster pressmen expires and turn the work over to Transcontinental, which will build a plant in the Bay Area. Graphic Arts Monthly reports that Transcontinental is investing $200 million in its new plant here and will install three Coleman XXL presses from MAN Roland.
The outsourcing of printing is becoming more popular for daily newspaper owners. The three big national papers, NY Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal, have been outsourcing much of their work for decades, though the Chronicle would be the largest daily to outsource all of its printing. In 2005, the 70,000-circulation Daily Breeze in Torrance, Calif., shut down its printing operation and outsourced to Southwest Offset in Gardena, Calif. Southwest also prints the San Mateo Daily Journal and the Daily News Group (Palo Alto Daily News, San Mateo Daily News, etc.) at its plant in Redwood City.
Peninsula Press Club
A Guild leader said the the downsizing of 50 BS employees will be met. Eighty-five of the 500+ Guild members qualify for the buyout package that the Guild accepted without change.
Full story here.
Sunday, April 29, 2007
When I entered the auditorium, I could not see David, and felt like the spotlight was upon me by being the only person standing, so I grabbed a seat near the front. As I took my third photograph, I was informed by one of the volunteers pictures were not allowed.
RJ Smith moderated the panel and is a senior editor at Los Angeles magazine, where he writes about the media. Smith previously wrote about music for the Village Voice and Spin.
Hugh Hewitt became Executive Editor of Townhall.com in 2006, when Salem Communications purchased it and re-engineered it from a web magazine into a conservative new-media and activism forum.
Kevin Roderick's LA Observed has become the go-to source for links and insight about life in the Los Angeles.
Jill Leovy writes the Los Angeles Times Homicide Report, which has become one of the most popular blogs at the newspaper’s online edition.
The panel held a lively discussion on blogging, and how it has changed the landscape of the online world. But the topic that caught my attention was anonymous comments and how time consuming it is. All the bloggers agreed anonymous comments are not productive, with only fifty percent of users actually reading the comments. The past few weeks the staff of this blog has considered removing anonymous comments, and after attending this panel this may very well be the direction we are headed.
While rank and file folks are dealing with buyout documents and layoff fears, Tribune execs are making personal decisions too.
Some Tribune execs are either declining to accept their huge bonuses, or settling for less. CEO FitzSimons passed on his entirely. And Tribune Publishing president Scott Smith will give up his $400,000 bonus. Senior VP of finance/administration Donald Grenesko will settle for a meager $400,000 instead of the $600,000 due him and Tribune Broadcasting president John Reardon will receive $200,000 instead of $350,000. When the Zell deal closes, the five highest-paid executives will cash out about $65 million worth stock, options and restricted stock.
I always have to pause when I read that someone is changing genders. For them it must be a personal victory, the culmination of years of feeling alienated by their own sexual identity, and now, they've come into being as they should be. They are very lucky.
But I wonder if they think the struggle is over.
Because stepping into the shoes of the opposite sex is complex. You're taking on history and current events.
How is Christine going to address these issues:
-sexual abuse of both girls and boys
-the vernacular that has been incorporated into mainstream vocabulary that denigrates women and girls as 'ho's.'
-the selling of young girls into sexual slavery in other countries
-birth control and the erosion of reproductive rights
-the rise of HIV in women and girls worldwide
I hope that Christine will join those of us (both men and women) who have been addressing these issues for years. As a journalist, I figure she already knows. I just hope she's able to fully embody Christine, and work to help others who are struggling for human rights.
If she wants to 'get it,' she can look over at Ex Pat Jane's blog and watch the videos, "On Being Black and a Woman, Whichever Is Worse."
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Off to UCLA in a few minutes for the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, should prove to be another great event. As usual, I will be with camera in hand for the slight chance I can capture a few celebrities today.
Stay cool, it will be another hot one today.
Friday, April 27, 2007
ncluded with the stock buyback offer made to shareholders this week is the disclosure of financial assumptions used by Tribune and its advisors during the auction process. Chicago Tribune's Michael Oneal explains the upside and the downside of what those documents reveal.
Yet, a few of my Tribune Boss’ attempt to poke fun at us pressmen with their comments that the pressroom employees shot themselves in the foot by voting for union representation, and my response to them is, “If this latest buyout is such a tremendous offer, why don’t you take it”.
On Monday the downsizing at the Times was made official by David Hiller, with 100 to 150 Times employees bought out or laid off. So when the press operators were told that same day that we would be replaced or gotten rid off if we did not adhere to one thing or another, the timing could not be worse with the latest bad news from Chicago.
With tensions high and moral low among the workers the use of diplomacy at this time is suggested, by this I mean, If you want to tell me to go to hell, do so in a manner that I’ll look forward to the trip.
What brought this on were the two roller wraps last week on one particular press, but does management question the experts (The Press Operators), no they don’t, they assume the wraps occurred because we are taking short cuts. When I started my press last week we discovered a roller and plate wrap (newsprint in the rollers and on the plates) on unit A-9 at the 13 side, level B, near position.
The very next day David Joe and crew ran the same press, and after running 40,000 to 50,000 copies, stopped the press to replace updated plates (replates) and when they restarted the press they had a roller and plate wrap, in exactly the same position as we experienced.
This tells me the newsprint either peeled out at this location or the newsprint separated (newsprint is made up of two sheets pressed together) because the magenta ink is extremely tacky. With sonic detectors you may wonder why the press did not come to a stop with the newsprint absent, there are no detectors on the outside pages of the sheets; they only monitor the two middle pages of a web.
On Wednesday of this week I told my crew we were ordered by our pressroom manager to follow SOP’s (standard operating procedures) or I would be replaced. After struggling to engage the clutch on unit F-9, level B, we finally black boarded our press a bit after three in the afternoon, and while removing the used plates we found the couple at this unit would not move forward or reverse.
What had happened was the cleanup crew had left a towel in the roller train, which would have been discovered at one in the afternoon if we took a shortcut and removed the color plates while the reel changes were being made.
This SOP resulted in downtime for my printing press, the Machine Shop was called, and the crushed blankets had to be changed.
I’m constantly reminded I’m highly paid, so allowed me to do what you pay me for, run my printing press the most efficient way I see fit.
Taking my concerns to the senior vice-president of production resulted in a comment from him “Don’t get yourself in trouble Ed”, but I will be replaced, according to my pressroom manager, if I do not adhere to the SOP’s.
I’m at a loss here, which way do you gentlemen want it? Take shortcuts to expedite the press runs, or follow the SOP’s, and take a chance of impacting the following shift.
By Ronnie Pineda
I have asked David Rascon in Los Angeles and Charlie Laird in O.C. for the names of anyone who is interested in consideration for this current buy-out. I have spoke to Marty Keegan about this matter and according to David Hiller's letter, hourly employees in the pressroom would have to "Collectively Bargain" any buy-outs. Marty is going to notify The International and our Attorneys to see if the company could exclude our members to avoid "bargaining" pressroom buy-outs.
The purpose of Union Representation was not to block anyone from leaving, it is intended to protect those who choose to stay. Should the company be willing to bargain buy-out's at this time, (which is possible) it will certainly be an advantage to the interested pressroom employee to have representation in an effort to better the buy-out offer.
I believe that the majority of pressroom employees are breathing a sigh of relief knowing that Tribune is unable to look in our direction this time.
If you are interested in this buy-out, you can notify me here on saveourtrade.com and I will compile a list of interested pressroom employees to provide to our representatives.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
THE LOS ANGELES TIMES
7TH ANNUAL E.V.S.P.
YES ITS TIME AGAIN
LOSS OF JOBS OVER 100
4 DAY WORK AT 80% PAY
PLUS PART TIME BENEFITS
BIGGER WORK LOADS
HIGHER STRESS LEVELS
UNSAFE WORK CONDITIONS
PLUS SO MORE BULL
TO SIGN UP FOR THIS MARVELLOUS OFFER FROM
OUR OVERLORDS AT TRIBUNE
JUST SEE ANY BLOODSUCKER FROM TRIBUNE
I’M SURE THEY WILL BE MORE THAN HAPPY TO HELP
YOU GET YOUR PAPER WORK IN ORDER
In light of what is about to happen to some of our co workers I apologize for poking fun at the situation were in, if this flyer makes you angry, then so be it.
You have every right to be angry. The bastards out of Tribune have all
Employees on the floor and are kicking the holy crap out of us. Stand up and
Fight back it’s not too late, it’s never too late. That’s just how they want you to feel.
I know that when I pray for a turnaround in the economy, that prayer it will never
Be answered because wall street and corporate greed run the economy.
A Guild blog reader suggested we post the link to a newyorker.com column titled "It's The Workforce, Stupid!" Author James Surowiecki writes that recent research has concluded that workforce layoffs is an effective way to cut costs, but the practice is a temporary fix and has a "negative impact on morale."
Staff cuts negatively impact morale because those left behind are expected to produce more – in addition to their own work – to make up for work previously done by their departed colleagues and often for less pay and longer hours.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
I feel, that dignity, in the American Company, is no longer existent. How can these people claim dignity, when these same people make a fat six figure income to the bottom of the totem pole and millions, upon millions of dollars, at the very top. All while doing it at the expense of peoples jobs, and not by growing our business, but do so, by exporting our jobs, selling us up into smaller pieces, allowing the value of the company to shrink to almost nothing, so on and so on. I get sickened just thinking about it. I can only hope, that the new breed of corporate bosses that are coming in have some dignity somewhere in their heart, for the sake of this company and the sake of Journalism. To see just how much talent we really have within our company. We are underutilized, and over exerted in many areas. What we need, is people we can trust to run a business, and not a meat market where people are just numbers. Please do not tell me that you are sorry to see the loss of jobs, when you still have your job and you make at least 5 times more than the avg worker in this company. I don't think those fake speeches can help heal what has happened over the last 6 years, and I also don't think that a "union" can help us at this point, but I do feel that unity within our company will take us all further. This is not about "me" but about us. The majority of us, have families, some type of financial obligations. We have dreams, and goals. But today many of us will have to put these goals and dreams on hold, until we know who will be losing a job. To all of us, that will be affected, my sympathy and my best wishes. To all the Pressmen that are "stuck", right now, good luck in whatever happens. I just wish you guy's would stand united and look deep inside to see just how talented and gifted many of you are, and use that talent to make some real change, company wide, not just in one department. Anyone with some dignity up to the challenge?
The Los Angeles to Chicago "CASH PIPELINE" is flowing once again! I understand the pressure that our newspaper, as well as all newspapers in general are under, but what I don't understand is how Executive Management in Chicago continues to siphon off millions of dollars at the expense of Los Angeles Times employees and line their own pockets with it.
The blog will most likely draw many new users to all Times Blogs, with constant updates as the trial moves forward.
» Represents over 50% of Shares Outstanding; Value of Approximately $4.3 Billion;
» Initial $250 Million Investment by Sam Zell Completed
CHICAGO, April 25, 2007 –- Tribune Company (NYSE: TRB) today announced that it has commenced its previously announced tender offer to repurchase up to 126 million shares of its common stock for $34 pershare, returning approximately $4.3 billion of capital to shareholders. In the tender offer, shareholders will have the opportunity to tender some or all of their shares at a price of $34 per share in cash. The tender offer is being made pursuant to the previously disclosed merger agreement among Tribune, the Tribune Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), the ESOP’s merger subsidiary and an affiliate of Sam Zell. The tender offer commenced today and will expire on May 24, 2007, unless extended.
The repurchase of up to 126 million shares of common stock through the tender offer represents over 50% of Tribune’s outstanding common shares with a total value of approximately $4.3 billion. The stock repurchases will be funded through bank debt and a $250 million investment from Sam Zell. The Zell investment was consummated on April 23, 2007.
“This tender offer will return significant capital to Tribune shareholders, including employees who currently own about 23 million shares of stock,” said Dennis FitzSimons, Tribune chairman, president and chief executive officer. “With Sam Zell’s initial investment completed, and the tender offer launched, the first stage of our transaction that will result in Tribune Company going private is underway.”
The Chandler Trusts, which collectively hold approximately 20% of Tribune’s outstanding shares of common stock, have agreed to tender all shares of Tribune common stock held by them at the expiration of the offer. The ESOP and Zell will not tender any of the shares of Tribune common stock held by them in the offer.
To view this full press release on the Internet,
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
I suggest you drop in for a visit. Jesse Espinoza has been working hard to form a friendly place to exchange ideas on many different topics.
The VBulletin is a bit different than a blog, the topics stay in place with users adding comments. On the blog, posts go to the archives after fourteen days, and many will no longer see your comments, unless they run a search for a name or event.
Some users prefer VBulletin over blogs, you be the judge and pay the Los Angeles Times Pressmen's Forums a visit.
The same package offered in LA and Chicago was laid out today in Baltimore, except that the program is subject to discussion with Guild leaders on behalf of those covered by the contract.
Take-it-or-leave-it packages don't automatically apply where workers are represented by a union. The Sun's 600+ Guild-represented employees have a voice through their elected leadership and if involuntary layoffs are needed, they will be subject to the terms and conditions of their collective bargaining agreement.
If the inept CEO Dennis FitzSimons tells Hiller and O'Shea to jump off the building, not only will they jump, but they will take the Times staff, their families and their children and jump off with them, using their bodies as cushions, before they cart off their fat bonuses.
Here’s my problem; because I had planned to work the event both days I did not bother to get my hands on a ticket to any of the events, and there’s one event on Saturday I would like to attend, blogging and beyond.
If anyone has one extra ticket for this event please contact me,
Thank you in advance.
Edward 909.xxx.xxxx cell
Fowler Museum Lenart
PANEL 1061 10:30 AM New Media: Blogging & Beyond
Moderator Mr. RJ Smith
Mr. Hugh Hewitt
Ms. Jill Leovy
Mr. Kevin Roderick
UPDATE 9:34 p.m.
David Markland, City Captain/Author Metroblogging Los Angeles has come through with a ticket for me to Blogging & Beyond this Saturday. Thanks a million David, hope I can return the favor some day.
I personally enjoy reading the questions and answers in Ms. Coe's column, and hope to see other online celebrities such as Kevin Roderick, Hugh Hewitt, Darleene Powells, David Markland, Sean Bonner, Will Campbell, and Boi from Troy in future Q&A.
The Times blogs that have not published online for more than a month have been removed, and the five new blogs have been added to the list of Los Angeles Times Blogs, located at the left column of this blog.
Here are the new blogs:
The Daily Mirror - Larry Harnisch. The leading Black Dahlia expert and a collaborator in the 1947project, Harnisch has been a copy editor at The Times since 1988. He has appeared on many TV shows discussing the Dahlia case, notably "James Ellroy's Feast of Death."
Join him for a spin through old Los Angeles in the Mirror's radio car. Keep your eyes open for Mickey Cohen and Tempest Storm. It's quite a ride.
Show Tracker - 24 - America's Next Top Model - American Idol - Battlestar Galactica -
Dancing With the Stars - Gilmore Girls - Grey's Anatomy - Heroes - House - Lost -
Real World - The Office - The Shield - The Sopranos - Ugly Betty
The Phil Spector Trial - Daily updates from the courtroom.
LA Plaza - News, Links & Observations about Latin America from Times correspondents.
LA Land - Peter Viles: In 20 years as a journalist, Peter Viles has covered Wall Street, the economy, the dot-com boom and bust, crime, politics, the occasional wildfire, and, whenever possible, college football. He has worked as a reporter for the Associated Press and CNN, and has written for Variety and The New York Observer. He lives in Santa Monica with his wife, fashion designer Stacy Johnson, and their two children.
Monday, April 23, 2007
By Ronnie Pineda
I spoke with GCC/IBT Organizer, Marty Keegan this morning regarding the announced "CUTS" at our Newspaper, The Los Angeles Times, and he informed me that as soon as he was aware of the proposed cut's here, he contacted GCC/IBT Lawyers in Washington D.C.
According to Marty and the GCC/IBT Attorneys, "we are safe from any cut's and or lay-offs" for the simple fact that we won our Election for Union Representation, and any buyouts or layoffs are subject to collective bargaining. If management wishes to offer buy-out's in our shops, they must negotiate the terms of the buy-out first. Any arbitrary actions taken by the Company without Union Representation for any involved Pressroom Employees will be grounds for unfair labor practice charges to be filed against the company. A "Buy-Out" is nothing more than a "Layoff" which results in staffing reductions. Staffing levels are a main bargaining issue and are subject to collective bargaining.
Continue reading by clicking on the title or here.
Management at the Olympic Facility did a great job of getting the word out with all memo’s attached to the bulletin board, where pressroom employees sign in daily. The press operators attended a meeting with our department head and we were informed no hourly workers in the pressroom are eligible for the buyout; but they can quit if they so desire.
I know of several pressroom employees that would like to take the current buyout, but because of the pressroom becoming a union shop, hourly pressroom employees cannot take advantage of the severance package. The individuals interested in leaving should contact their union representatives for information on taking the buyout, not certain at this moment if they will be allowed to do so?
If the current trend in advertising and circulation continue to sag, I’m sure we will see additional cost cutting measures implemented by years end.
The plan in Chicago, according to Chicago Tribune's publisher Scott Smith, is to achieve savings through — among other ways — reduced overtime and reduced staffing by "up to 100 employees across all departments".
Looks like the separation packages and deadlines are the same as in LA.
Sent: Monday, April 23, 2007 11:09 AM
Subject: Staff Reductions
To the Staff:
I know this is not a happy day for people in the newsroom, including me.
As you all probably have heard by now, we announced today the preliminary steps for another staff reduction at the Los Angeles Times.
I did not come here to preside over a decline of this great newspaper. I consider the loss of each and every journalist or employee in this company a failure. I guarantee you I have worked extremely hard to minimize any staff reduction. I will also guarantee you that I will work just as hard in the future to avoid another day like this.
As you would do with any story, please don't rush to judgment about the proposal unveiled by David Hiller in his memo to the staff. We have issued a call for anyone who would like to explore leaving to contact his or her supervisor.
We consciously made the offer available to everyone because we wanted to be fair, not because we don't care about who stays and who leaves. We value each and every one of you. As the notice said, we will not accept every request. If your job has to be backfilled, chances are you will not qualify. In a perfect world, I would prefer that every employee stay here. Unfortunately we don't live in a perfect world.
We have to make a reduction and we are trying to do it the best way we can. If there are people who want to leave for legitimate reasons and we can help them, we will, as long it serves the overall interests of the newspaper.
There will be some position eliminations, too. We will determine how many once we know the results of the voluntary program. There is also a voluntary reduction of hours element to the program. For details, you should look at David Hiller's release or ask your supervisor.
A number of you have asked me how we could cut jobs to save millions of dollars at a time when a group of unnamed executives will reap bonuses and stock grants worth millions when the change of ownership is complete. I cannot - and will not - defend any such bonuses. Frankly, I understand why you are angry about these plans.
But this staff reduction is not because of -- or about -- bonuses. Unfortunately, the business model at newspapers across the nation remains under challenge and we are no exception.
We still make lots of money. But a negative cloud hangs over our projected future revenues. Advertisers simply doubt we can continue to attract readers as we have in the past. They are abandoning newspapers for other advertising venues, eroding our revenues and cash flow and increasing the pressure on our costs.
I personally think these doomsayers are wrong. Newspapers have a far brighter future than the doubters think. Sam Zell, who will make his first investment in the company soon, says he agrees. We are making substantial progress at latimes.com. The newspaper remains editorially vibrant; our stories, photos and graphics are excellent and we are dramatically increasing our ability to deliver news and information across a variety of platforms. We are moving in the right direction.
Where can anyone get a deal that matches the Los Angeles Times for only 50 cents a day? There is so much value in our newspaper that it is better than free; it is a world-class bargain. We are growing on-line readership aggressively. And just look at the parade of awarding-winning journalism being recognized by our peers, including the Pulitzer Prize for "Altered Oceans" announced in early April. This is an outstanding newspaper and outstanding staff.
We must continue to deliver exceptional editorial performance during these troubled times, and we can do that by continuing to practice quality journalism. Good, solid, relevant journalism flowing from the newsroom is more valuable than ever today, not only for us but also for the public we serve.
We are not going to overcome this challenge by bemoaning our fate or complaining about inequities. Life's not fair; we all know that. I pledge to you that I will apply this reduction in a fair manner. It will be painful, but I will do it. And then we must move on. We can't yearn for a past that's gone; we must grow. We must invest the substantial resources that remain at our disposal wisely. Currently that is our most important challenge. The newsroom is the heart and soul of a newspaper and we owe it our energy, creativity and integrity.
I did not come here to fail. I came here to make things better for the journalists and the public we serve in Southern California. Today is one of the more challenging days. But better times are ahead. I truly believe that.
Soon we will become a private company co-owned by Sam Zell and the employees. Being private has its advantages. We will no longer have to operate in the public glare of Wall Street. Most other rules and practices that apply to us as a public company won't change, though. We will face the same pressures and have the same opportunities.
Currently Mr. Zell has an agreement to invest in the company. He is scheduled to join the board sometime in the second quarter of 2007. He is someone who says he believes in the value of what we do, someone who says he sees in us a good business, someone who can peer through clouds of doubt and see a different and better future. I welcome that kind of thinking and spirit.
Meanwhile, I will be here until we convince the world of the truth: more people are reading content from the Los Angeles Times than ever before. Although our future may seem dim on days like today, we continue to have one. Don't let the doomsayers convince you otherwise. We have a future; it is out there for us to claim.
Sent: Monday, April 23, 2007 11:04 AM
To: zzAll LATimes Employees; zzMediaPartners
Subject: Organization Announcement
We’re announcing today a series of actions, including an Employee Voluntary Separation Program that will eliminate between 100-150 jobs at the Los Angeles Times.
These actions reflect the fundamental and ongoing changes occurring in our business. You read last week that the company announced our first quarter financial results, and they were not good. For our whole Los Angeles Times Media Group, revenue down 4% and cash flow down 13%. There was some good news, with online revenue growing 20%. But the growth in new media is not yet big enough to offset the decline on the print side of the business. The picture was similar at the other Tribune newspapers.
Over the past months, we have been talking (and doing) a lot about how we need to change to sustain our mission and business as the best and most trusted source of news and information in Southern California. What we do is too important not to change in ways essential to sustain us into the future. We simply can’t afford not to change
As we’ve talked about before, here are some of the major lines of how we need to change:
Re-tool everything to be fully multimedia
Grow online faster, integrated with print
Change the newspaper to better serve our local audience and reflect how readers live, and use print, today
Offer more products for more audience segments, like Hoy for the Spanish-speaking part of our communities
Invest and re-allocate resources to grow
Get our employees engaged and fired-up about how we will change, where we are going
We are making headway. Our efforts to transform the newsroom to a 24/7 multi-media world are getting traction. We are adding people and other investment to these print/online efforts, and will add more, including more interactive product development people and supporting technology.
You see progress in the new product launches and innovations, including the new TRAVEL and IMAGE sections, with rich interactive counter-parts. And there is much, much more in the pipeline.
But in addition to adding people and resources to achieve growth, we have to find expense savings to offset some of the decline in revenue on the print side. We are looking at everything:
Recent product changes, including elimination of the Sunday TV Book will save several million dollars
We have been revamping operations and distribution to find very significant efficiencies
Out-sourcing efforts in circulation call centers and the tech help desks will achieve further savings
We are finding savings in supplies, postage expense, travel, and many other areas
But, we also have to look at our staffing levels again, as painful as it is, and as many times as we have done it before. The fact is we have to take actions to keep staffing in line with the revenue picture, which currently is falling in the core print business.
So through a combination of approaches, we are planning to eliminate in the range of 100-150 positions (roughly 3% to 5% of our workforce). We have tried to approach this as carefully and thoughtfully as possible across all departments.
Here are the components of the plans:
Eliminating positions that are currently open
An Employee Voluntary Separation Program
Eliminating certain other employee positions
Voluntary 4-day week for 80% of pay
Employee Voluntary Separation Program (EVSP)
We are offering a voluntary program where employees can choose to leave, based on their own personal and career situation and plans. We would plan to accept up to approximately 150 volunteers. Not all positions or areas of the company are eligible, given current business and staffing needs. The following areas are NOT eligible: Circulation Home Delivery; Interactive; Security; Technology; Times Direct; TCN; Recycler; Hoy; and CCN. For hourly employees in the pressroom unit, all aspects of the program are subject to collective bargaining, and requests to participate will not be considered until addressed by the bargaining process. In addition, a person will not generally be considered for the voluntary program if their position would have to be back-filled. A complete list of employees eligible for the EVSP can be found on TimesLink.
Open and Involuntary Position Eliminations
In addition to the voluntary program, we will be identifying other positions to be eliminated. Some of these may be positions currently open, and others are currently filled. We will decide on these positions in the same time period as the voluntary program.
Individuals whose positions are eliminated or who request and are granted a voluntary separation will be provided with a separation package in exchange for signing a waiver and release agreement.
Key elements of the separation package include:
One week of separation pay for every completed six months of service; minimum of four weeks, maximum of 52 weeks paid through salary continuation
Benefits continuation for eligible employees for the length of separation pay; minimum three months of health care coverage
Employer 401(k) allocation will continue for eligible employees
Voluntary 4-day Week for 80% of Pay
One additional idea that we're considering is allowing full-time employees to voluntarily reduce their work week from five days to four days. This schedule change would also involve changing from full-time benefits to part-time benefits and, of course, would be contingent on each department's workload and staffing needs. If you think that this is something you'd like to consider, please contact your HR Generalist for details.
Schedule and Next Steps
Volunteers should submit an application no later than Monday, May 14
Decisions regarding the voluntary program and other position eliminations will be communicated no later than Friday, May 25
Employees’ last day of work generally will be no later than Friday, June 1
So that’s the plan. We will be posting a lot of additional information, including FAQs on TimesLink.
Thank you for your understanding and support as we move ahead, and for all that you do for this great newspaper and the communities we serve.
Tribune Employees Talk: Long-term (non-union) Trib employee worried about changes in retirement plans
The Guild's ESOP advisor Chris Mackin of Ownership Associates received an inquiry from a long-term Tribune employee seeking information specific to the Times-Mirror plans and the new Tribune plan.
The employee and a group of like-minded coworkers are so concerned about the changes to their retirement plans they are considering pooling their money to hire a lawyer/accountant to provide them with an independent evaluation of the sale and its affect on their retirements. At the Los Angeles Times, management and the employees in the newsroom have formed a committee to seek answers as to how the sale affects their retirement funds.
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No word of cutbacks at other Tribune properties has been mentioned yet, but I’m sure in the next few days something will be said.
Seventy of the buyouts at the Los Angeles Times will be made in the editorial department, with the other eighty from un-named departments at this time. Needless to say, many are concerned regarding their future employment at the newspaper.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
None of the sources including the reporters bothered delve into the issue of mental health and how a cultural stigma against it might have prevented the mother who had a son who never spoke from seeking medical advice. Even Prof. Chang from UCI Riverside trots out the same excuse: that a trip to an outside source would have signified a personal failure. We'll, we've heard that before, it's a stereotype that's used not only by Asians, but by everyone else. Plus, I can assure him that there are other Korean families who are actively working to help their children with mental illness by seeking outside help. I know. I've met them. And these are the ones we need to hear from: how did they overcome the perceived shame and decide to seek help? Was it a shove from the school? From the church? From social groups? How did they negotiate with schools, with social services agencies to secure services for their child? And what has the reaction been from the Korean peers? Supportive? Denial? Exclusion?
Perhaps it's politically correct to create the picture of the hardworking immigrant family, but there were gaps here that would be good to know, so that other parents who are actively working to help their children with similiar ailments (autism, depression, early-onset schizophrenia) don't make the same mistakes. I think the reporters took an easy and predictable route. In other words, yet another unremarkable story.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
"Not all of our businesses are destined to increase profits. When an industry’s underlying economics are crumbling, talented management may slow the rate of decline. Eventually, though, eroding fundamentals will overwhelm managerial brilliance. (As a wise friend told me long ago, “If you want to get a reputation as a good businessman,be sure to get into a good business.”) And fundamentals are definitely eroding in the newspaper industry, a trend that has caused the profits of our Buffalo News to decline. The skid will almost certainly continue.
When Charlie and I were young, the newspaper business was as easy a way to make huge returns as existed in America. As one not-too-bright publisher famously said, “I owe my fortune to two great American institutions: monopoly and nepotism.” No paper in a one-paper city, however bad the product or however inept the management, could avoid gushing profits.
The industry’s staggering returns could be simply explained. For most of the 20th Century, newspapers were the primary source of information for the American public. Whether the subject was sports, finance, or politics, newspapers reigned supreme. Just as important, their ads were the easiest way to find job opportunities or to learn the price of groceries at your town’s supermarkets.
The great majority of families therefore felt the need for a paper every day, but understandably most didn’t wish to pay for two. Advertisers preferred the paper with the most circulation, and readers tended to want the paper with the most ads and news pages. This circularity led to a law of the newspaper jungle: Survival of the Fattest.
Thus, when two or more papers existed in a major city (which was almost universally the case a century ago), the one that pulled ahead usually emerged as the stand-alone winner. After competition disappeared, the paper’s pricing power in both advertising and circulation was unleashed. Typically, rates for both advertisers and readers would be raised annually – and the profits rolled in. For owners this was economic heaven. (Interestingly, though papers regularly – and often in a disapproving way – reported on the profitability of, say, the auto or steel industries, they never enlightened readers about their own Midas-like situation. Hmmm . . .)
As long ago as my 1991 letter to shareholders, I nonetheless asserted that this insulated world was changing, writing that “the media businesses . . . will prove considerably less marvelous than I, the industry, or lenders thought would be the case only a few years ago.” Some publishers took umbrage at both this remark and other warnings from me that followed. Newspaper properties, moreover, continued to sell as if they were indestructible slot machines. In fact, many intelligent
newspaper executives who regularly chronicled and analyzed important worldwide events were either blind or indifferent to what was going on under their noses.
Now, however, almost all newspaper owners realize that they are constantly losing ground in the battle for eyeballs. Simply put, if cable and satellite broadcasting, as well as the internet, had come along first, newspapers as we know them probably would never have existed.
In Berkshire’s world, Stan Lipsey does a terrific job running the Buffalo News, and I am enormously proud of its editor, Margaret Sullivan. The News’ penetration of its market is the highest among that of this country’s large newspapers. We also do better financially than most metropolitan newspapers, even though Buffalo’s population and business trends are not good. Nevertheless, this operation faces unrelenting pressures that will cause profit margins to slide.
True, we have the leading online news operation in Buffalo, and it will continue to attract more viewers and ads. However, the economic potential of a newspaper internet site – given the many alternative sources of information and entertainment that are free and only a click away – is at best a small fraction of that existing in the past for a print newspaper facing no competition.
For a local resident, ownership of a city’s paper, like ownership of a sports team, still produces instant prominence. With it typically comes power and influence. These are ruboffs that appeal to many people with money. Beyond that, civic-minded, wealthy individuals may feel that local ownership will serve their community well. That’s why Peter Kiewit bought the Omaha paper more than 40 years ago.
We are likely therefore to see non-economic individual buyers of newspapers emerge, just as we have seen such buyers acquire major sports franchises. Aspiring press lords should be careful, however: There’s no rule that says a newspaper’s revenues can’t fall below its expenses and that losses can’t mushroom. Fixed costs are high in the newspaper business, and that’s bad news when unit volume heads south. As the importance of newspapers diminishes, moreover, the “psychic” value of possessing one will wane, whereas owning a sports franchise will likely retain its cachet.
Unless we face an irreversible cash drain, we will stick with the News, just as we’ve said that we would. (Read economic principle 11, on page 76.) Charlie and I love newspapers – we each read five a day – and believe that a free and energetic press is a key ingredient for maintaining a great democracy. We hope that some combination of print and online will ward off economic doomsday for newspapers, and we will work hard in Buffalo to develop a sustainable business model. I think we will be successful. But the days of lush profits from our newspaper are over."
The CEO of the Tribune Co., Dennis FitzSimons, continues the nosedive his papers are in, by announcing a new buyout and, very possibly, layoffs at the L.A. Times amounting to 5%, or approximately 150 jobs.
The cut will be even more severe in the Times newsroom, where 70 of 920 staff members, or about 7%, will be asked to leave. (About 100 staff losses are also mandated for the Chicago Tribune and undoubtedly others for other newspapers unfortunate enough to be owned by Tribune).
Jim Rainey's story, buried on Page 2 of the Times Business section this morning, rather disingenuously declares, "With revenue declining, many employees fear that the only way to sustain cash flow will be with further job reductions."
- Toledo stand-off deepens - The Newspaper Guild
- Union Criticizes Executive Pay - Houston Chronicle
- We're Terminating Your Contract - Editor & Publisher
- Times is expected to cut 5% of staff - Tribune Watch
- FCC’s Copps Needs Convincing on Tribune Deal - Free Press
- 43 in 'AJC' Newsroom Take Buyout - Editor & Publisher
- Unionized Employees could be cut out of Tribune stock - Examiner
- LAT design head goes to Rolling Stone - LA Biz Observed
When traveling in Southern California, we encourage you to drive safely and listen to local radio stations - especially AM news stations with frequent traffic updates. Public Safety and municipal agencies strive to keep these broadcasters informed with the most current information.
For those who happen to be near a computer, Los Angeles regional traffic resources are almost too numerous to mention. Here are some links you may wish to e-mail to a friend or bookmark:
To view the complete story click on the title of this post.
Friday, April 20, 2007
Here's what Kevin has to say.
"A buyout offer to be announced Monday will try to cut 70 newsroom jobs, taking the editorial staff from 940 to around 870. Before Tribune took over the news staff was well over 1,000. Layoffs would likely follow if the buyouts don't induce the required number to leave — probably concentrated among the most experienced, and thus most expensive, reporters, editors, photographers and other staffers. A story posted at LATimes.com says the goal is 150 job cuts newspaper wide. This, of course, comes within about a year of two LAT publishers and the editor in chief warning Tribune that cuts of this magnitude would severely damage the paper's product and appeal to readers."
My plant manager assured me I will remain, and I appreciate his optimistic view, but the question is, how much longer will I stay with the newspaper? In the mean time I'm preparing to cut costs on the home front by eliminating LA Fitness, The Dish Network, and changing my cell phone to the lowest possible service plan. I'm just playing it safe, in case my number comes up one day soon.
Ex-Pat Jane has a page to all of the victims from Monday's massacre. Each name has a link, which gives a picture and tells about them.
I was disgusted by NBC's decision to release all of the killer's material. It was done to boost ratings. I always thought more attention should be given to the victims. I feel very sorry for those parents who had to sit through NBC's cold and classless decision.
The Writerly Pause spoke with Mr. Al Martinez. He was gracious and invited us into his home nestled amid oak trees. Surrounded by books, and all the things that one would collect in a newspaper career that has spanned 50 years, he spoke of his experiences as a writer.
I'll share one of his stories with you.
When Al worked at the Oakland Tribune, he has a tight deadline for a story. He was writing about a boy who was dying of leukemia, and all he wanted was peaches. But it was winter, and this was before Make-A-Wish Foundation, the internet, or the international shipping of fruits was common. Al was working on the story, unsure of whether or not he'd make the deadline and the worst thing was that this kid was probably not going to get his peaches.
He had a giant of a city editor at that time named Al Reck, who called him from home. He wanted to know how the article was going. Martinez told him about the peaches, how the kid was dying.
"Get the kid his peaches," he said.
"But I can't find any. It's winter and they're not in season."
"Call Australia," he said, and gave Martinez a phone number. How Al Reck even knew of a farm down under that grew them remains a mystery. This is before Google, before mail order, before Australia entered our consciousness.
So Martinez calls Australia. It's summer in the southern hemisphere and sure they can send him the peaches, but they probably won't get through customs.
Al Reck calls back. "Got your peaches?"
"No, they won't make them through customs," he says.
"Then call the Director of Agriculture in Washington DC," he says. Again, Al gives him a phone number. But even more... it's the guy's home.
"I can't call him, it's 3 hours ahead!"
"Get the kid his peaches," says Al.
So Martinez calls the director. He's mad. But then Martinez says the magic words: "Al Reck" and lo and behold, doors open. San Fransisco customs is called and they get the order: let those peaches through.
Martinez orders the peaches. The growers agree to fly them out immediately.
Reck calls Martinez again.
"Got the peaches?" he asks.
"Yeah, I got them, but I still don't think I'll make my deadline," says Martinez.
"I didn't say you would make your deadline. I just said you'd get the kid his peaches!"
The story made the deadline. And the child died a few days later, but only after he got his peaches.
Sent: Thursday, April 19, 2007 2:08 PM
Subject: Employee Website Updated
Dear Fellow Employee,
This afternoon we updated the employee website dedicated to the transaction announced on April 2nd with Q&A on three topics: The Cash Balance Plan, the 401 (k) Plan, and the Equity Incentive Plan. This material supplements the Q&A regarding the ESOP which was posted earlier this week. In addition, we have added a new feature to the website that enables you to ask a question regarding the transaction or the company"s new package of retirement benefits for eligible employees. This feature is labeled "Ask A Question" and is located in the upper left hand rail of the website.
The website is available via Triblink and tribuneathome.com. We will continue to update it with additional information regularly; please check it frequently.
Tribune Co. CEO Dennis FitzSimons continues to fall on his face in performance, guiding the company to a catastrophic 12% decline in operating cash flow and a $15.6 million overall loss in the first quarter.
Who is the hapless FitzSimons trying to emulate? Ken Low, the late CEO of Enron?
Sam Zell, the buyer of Tribune, has said he will keep present management, pending a review and evaluation. If only Zell, whose ownership will not be final until the end of the year, could do both in the next 24 hours and give FitzSimons, senior member of the "axis of stupidity" which has been driving the Tribune newspapers into the ground, his walking papers. FitzSimons needs to get out of the company's hair.
He deserves only a small severance, perhaps $3.
No, the time has come for this failed manager to GO, and if he won't jump over the side voluntarily, he ought to be pushed. It's too late to save his business career.
Reports yesterday were about the 1Q loss and 12% cash flow drop and today Zell's new company has buyout/layoff plans for 100 in Chicago. No one's talking about how many positions will go company-wide. Zell has said he didn't think cost-cutting would solve Tribune's problems, but how is slashing jobs not cost-cutting?
While we all wait for the bad news, perhaps there's a bit of good news in a Tribune plan to fix it's leadership/management problems.
Kotter's 8-step program for guiding change according to the book's Table of Contents:
1. Establishing a sense of urgency
2. Creating the guiding coalition
3. Developing a vision and strategy
4. Communicating the change vision
5. Empowering broad-based action
6. Generating short-term wins
7. Consolidating gains and producing more change
8. Anchoring new approaches in the culture
To The Staff:
On Monday, April 23, in the auditorium on the first floor, we will have two very important staff meetings. I don't think there is any secret that our newspaper and others have been facing some challenging times.
Even though just a year ago we went through buyouts in an effort to reduce costs, the financial situation facing the paper and the Denver Newspaper Agency requires additional measures be taken. At meetings at 11 a.m. and again at 4 p.m., we will explain details of another round of buyouts in an effort to cut expenses without having to do layoffs. These buyouts will be offered to Guild and exempt employees. I really hope we are able to achieve the savings we need and every effort has been made to construct an offer that will help us get there. The meetings will give us a chance to share details of the offers with you and answer questions. I know this is tough and introduces more anxiety in already difficult times. But we will get through it.
See you then,
SOURCE: Jim Romenesko
As the big newspaper companies continue to make decisions to close bureaus in their effort to cut costs, journalists continue to speak up about the impact such measures have on their papers and their work.
Adam Reilly in today's Boston Phoenix congratulates Charlie Savage of The Boston Globe on his Pulitzer for National Reporting, which, according to Reilly "brings up some bigger issues that merit discussion. Anyone who follows the newspaper industry knows that dailies across the US are scaling back their institutional ambitions and anyone who follows the Globe knows that it’s very much a part of this trend: while the Washington, DC, bureau (where Savage is based) remains intact for now, the paper closed down its foreign bureaus earlier this year."
The Grapevine at the Los Angeles Times claims 110 employees will be leaving the Times to meet the needed cutbacks, with the editorial department hit the hardest. Most workers in the pressroom are wondering how many will be departing the operations departments in this latest downsizing frenzy; rumor has it the pressroom supervisors will be targeted.
Our Canadian neighbors (Transcontinental) has opened a sales office in the United States after announcing in November that they would be printing the San Francisco Chronicle, outsourcing all operation departments and employees at that newspaper.
Are Tribune newspapers next to bring in Transcontinental? I’m certain Transcontinental is knocking on our door.
With equipment failures in the pressrooms at the Los Angeles Times reaching all time high’s, it makes one wonder how many years, or months, we will be employed at the newspaper.
This latest round of buyouts could prove to be ugly for the remaining employees at the newspaper.