Halifax Media tells new employees to sign non-compete agreement

One veteran journalist says in an email that this “incredible two-year non-compete contract that Halifax Media Holdings is forcing on the employees of what had been the New York Times’ Regional Newspapers …. clearly [is] a strategy to allow Halifax to fire a bunch of people who don’t sign ‘for cause’ so Halifax won’t have to pay severance.”

I hear that at least one-well known journalist is refusing to sign the agreement and expects to be fired by the end of the day. I’ve emailed this person for comment. I’ve also left a message for Halifax Media corporate communications director Lori Catron.


It was shameful enough that the New York Times Company dumped thousands of employees when it sold the 16 newspapers in its Regional Media Group to Halifax Media Holdings with no provisions about job security.

Now comes word that Regional Media Holdings is requiring those employees whom it deems highly enough to retain to sign “non-competition agreements” that provide (1) that “the Company is free to terminate the Employee’s employment with the Company at any time for any reason” (so-called “at-will employment”) and (2) that bans terminated employees for two years from working for any media outlet that sells advertising — whether print, television, radio or Internet — in any city or county in which Halifax does business. In other words, it bans journalists from working as journalists where they live.

Employees have until tomorrow — Tuesday, January 10 — to sign away their rights or be fired. Oh, and forget about applying for a job at the New York Times. The deal bans The Times from hiring any of its marooned former employees for at least two years. Journalism in the age of leveraged-buyout artists.

[gview file=”http://jimromenesko.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/NonCompete-1.pdf”]



  1. John Robinson said:

    This is all you need to know about what kind of company it is.

  2. Christine Tatum said:

    This is also all you need to know about Halifax’s commitment to the communities it says it serves.

  3. Samantha X Johnston said:

    Legal remedies may help those affected to feel a bit better at the time of filing and when, if any, rulings are favorable but leaves unanswered interim matters of keeping a roof over their heads and food on their tables — forget about finding another job in journalism. Fighting with one’s arm tied behind one’s back extracts psychic costs that are difficult to restitute.

  4. This is precisely why noncompetes should be legally required to include comparable compensation to your salary for the term its in use. Companies are abusing the hell out of these things, and this may well be the worst I’ve ever seen. In all likelihood, its unenforceable but who would want to chance that? No way I’d sign it, they should all refuse in unison. To be fair to both parties, noncompetes should come with a choice when you leave a company for any reason. If they want to enforce it, pay up at the time of separation. Don’t enforce it, no compensation needed and everyone’s free and clear. Either way, forced noncompetes without compensation are a shameful and predatory practice that should be banned.

  5. lookout5 said:

    This wasn’t a strategy to fire people for not signing a clearly overreaching contract. It was a float to see how much fight is in the troops (answer: a lot, so they quickly backed down). And Halifax will impose these conditions on new employees. The real story is that Halifax is afraid that once the talent leaves–or is laid off–they may begin a competing publication (likely a website, as flaglerlive.com did with the Daytona News Journal). They are simply trying to quash competition. I think–given what happened at the News-Journal–they are likely to create it instead.