RealClearPolitics Media Watch

« Obiturary of Journalism | Media Watch Home Page | CNN in a Free Fall »

Ripple Effects Felt in Detroit

As Chrysler and now GM filed for bankruptcy protection, the ripple effects are being felt at Detroit's newspapers. Under reorganization, both automakers will be forced to slash their advertising budgets, and that hurts the Detroit Free Press and News, who are already in a world of hurt.

Merely two months after introducing an innovative program to drastically reduce printing and delivering of the papers, both publications are forced to cut more cost in the face of dwindling advertising revenue. Last week, the Free Press announced that it's reducing 10 percent of its newsroom staff, eliminating 20 jobs. This week, a furlough program is introduced, with more layoffs expected in the next two quarters.

Here's the memo obtained by Media Watch:

From: Anders, Jeanette
Sent: Monday, June 01, 2009 3:33 PM
To: Detroit Newspaper Partnership
Subject: Furlough Implementation

As you are aware, staff reductions were implemented throughout Detroit Media Partnership and the Detroit Free Press on Friday and negotiations are ongoing with several unions. Eliminating those positions was an extremely difficult step toward addressing the continuing declines we are seeing in advertising revenue due to economic conditions.

However, in an effort to help minimize this most recent round of staff reductions, it is necessary to implement other cost cutting measures.

As a result, we are implementing one-week furloughs for non-bargaining unit employees in the Partnership and the Free Press, as has been the case at most other Gannett properties.

Each affected employee will need to schedule these furloughs during June, July, August or September.

Attached are FAQ's about the program. Managers will share more detailed communication this week, including procedures on how to schedule.

Although this is a difficult decision, we believe it is one of the necessary measures to help meet targeted expense reductions. I appreciate all you are doing every day to contribute to our transformation and our business success.