Longtime Buffalo News executives lose jobs in restructuring

The new publisher at Warren Buffett’s Buffalo News has dismissed longtime executive vice president Bob Casell, circulation vice president Rich Williams, digital director Michael MaLoon, and library director David Valenzuela.
Casell was the #3 executive at the paper for about 15 years. Williams had been circulation chief at the News since 2004.

Warren Colville, who was promoted to publisher on the first of the year, has been appointing his own team. Last week he promoted his son, Warren Todd Colville, to vice president of sales.

UPDATE: Spokesperson Carol Horton returned my calls. She says Bob Casell’s executive assistant, Claudia Sikorski, also lost her job.

The publisher’s memo about the promotions is after the jump.

Warren Colville’s memo

Subject: A Letter from the Publisher & President

Fellow employees,

Since becoming President and Publisher of The Buffalo News late last year, I have been faced with the challenge of building a sustainable business model in an industry and economy that is transforming on a daily basis. We need to meet and ideally exceed the expectations of both our readers and advertisers. This can only be done by providing the best possible content products in the marketplace. Content must be a destination for our consumers and engage an audience that supports our advertisers.

We have made good progress this year with the additions of Refresh, Gusto Sunday and bringing back “The Brides” in the form of free wedding announcements. We have altered the Gusto and HomefinderExtra publication dates, which has resulted in greater Thursday readership. Our Olaf Fub contest has rewarded our loyal readers with fabulous prizes. To date we have received approximately 200,000 contest entries. Our digital products are becoming more robust with every passing week and we have a renewed focus on technology. TBN Direct is growing and having its best year since its inception. But our work is far from complete. Despite these efforts, our revenue is down almost $27 million over the past five years. Reversing this trend and re-building a viable business can only be met by having the right team in place to get the job done. Moving forward, our digital efforts will be split into three functional areas (content, sales and technology) with a specialist leading each unit.

Today I am pleased to announce several promotions that will help us realize success:

Bryan Donohue to Senior Vice President. Bryan will maintain responsibility for all financial matters and will now be responsible for the day-to-day operation of our company. His direct reports will now include information technology, building services, circulation systems and transportation.

Warren Todd Colville to Vice President of Sales. Todd will have responsibility for all revenue of the Buffalo News, both advertising and circulation. His 20-year background in both circulation and advertising is ideal for this new position as synergy between the two departments is even more critical for the future. In addition to his current responsibilities, digital and classified sales, retail store and circulation sales, and national and major accounts will now report to Todd.

Bryan Carr to Vice President of Production. Bryan will be responsible for all production of our traditional products as well as a critically important new segment of our future potential with TBN Direct.

Carol Horton to Vice President of Marketing & Public Relations. Carol’s role will expand to include all content for Buffalo.com, Buffalo Magazine and advertorial special sections. Carol is our company spokesperson as well.

This streamlining, designed to maximize efficiency and save money, also necessitates the elimination of several positions, including: Executive Vice President, Vice President of Circulation, Librarian, Director of Digital and Assistant to the Executive Vice President. We wish each of these individuals the best and thank them for their years of service.

Your department manager will be meeting with your team soon to review any impact these leadership changes may have on your department’s structure. I am always open to your thoughts and questions, as is Bryan Donohue. Please feel free to contact either one of us if you have any concerns.

As our CEO Warren Buffett has said, “I believe that papers delivering comprehensive and reliable information to tightly-bound communities and having a sensible Internet strategy will remain viable for a long time.” I assure you The Buffalo News is committed to doing just that. We must control our own destiny. I have confidence in our ability to reshape our company through innovation, hard work and conviction.

Warren Colville