Newspaper chain McClatchy orders more furloughs

Letter to Romenesko

FROM A McCLATCHY JOURNALIST: On June 25, you mentioned how McClatchy CEO Patrick Talamantes says there is “zero percent” chance that we’ll be cutting back or eliminating daily publishing.

On Wednesday, the chain’s Belleville (Ill.) News-Democrat told us we’ll be having 5 days of mandatory furloughs this summer. MC

You can’t make up timing like that.

The five days affect everyone at the paper except advertising and circulation, and the days have to be taken between the end of July to the beginning of October. They don’t want us to carry the days into the holiday season and stack them with vacation time — then we’d really be short on people. They say we’re still a profitable paper and supposedly the BND is one of the last (the last?) McClatchy paper to have to take furloughs.

Have you heard anything from the other papers?

This announcement comes after McClatchy announced a few weeks ago that its reporters will have to clock in and clock out and take precise lunch breaks. Seriously. Nothing like being “rigorous and tough” from the comforts of your desk. Oh wait, Talamantes was talking about cost cutting, not reporting.

The BND sent no official email/memo about the furloughs in order to prevent us from forwarding the details on to worrying shareholders or, well, you. [A memo was sent at 11:15 a.m. today. It’s after the jump.]

Yes, I have heard from people at other McClatchy papers. The Miami Herald also announced furloughs this week. Here’s the publisher’s memo:

From: Landsberg, David
Date: Thu, Jun 27, 2013 at 4:46 PM
Subject: 2nd Half Furlough
To: MIA All Herald Users

To all Herald staff:

Today we are announcing a one-week furlough program for most full-time employees who work a regularly scheduled 40-hour week, including all executives and senior managers.

Details about the program can be accessed by clicking on this [internal] link to HR Forms on HeraldHub. Employees will have until December 29, 2013 to complete their furloughs. Each division will manage its own process for sign-up and scheduling furloughs.

While we continue to make a profit, we are still experiencing year-to-year revenue losses. We are committed to generating new sources of revenue and new products to help bridge some of the losses. We know this is a hardship for everyone, and want to thank you for your continued understanding and hard work.

Is it the same story at other McClatchy papers? Please let me know.

The News-Democrat memo is after the jump.

Date: Fri, 28 Jun 2013 11:15:12 -0500

Colleagues:

A couple of friendly reminders and other info:

Q AND A: If you didn’t receive your furlough q and a and your scheduling request form, please see me or your supervisor asap.

SCHEDULING REQUEST The deadline for returning the form requesting specific furlough days or weeks is Friday, July 12. If you can figure out your request and hand it in earlier, that would be of great help. The forms should be turned in to your supervisor.

SUPERVISING EDITORS Same deadline for your own requests: please turn the information in to me by July 12, though the sooner the better.

SCHEDULING INFO Our plan in the newsroom is to accommodate everyone as much as possible. Business needs – i.e. making sure we have enough people to do the site and publish the paper every day – will also be a guiding force. We believe we can accommodate both the business needs and employee requests in most, if not all cases. We won’t know for sure until we can get the forms back and match up daily scheduling needs for the copy-design desk, web producers, city desk staff, sports staff, photo staff, features staff, management team and opinions page.

HELPING EACH OTHER: During these three months, it will be especially important to be supportive of each other. Our BND Magazine, for just one example, will require writing contributions from around the room to accommodate the furlough because we can’t put wire content in the book. When a feature writer is off, others will fill the gap. There will be other instances of these kinds of situations as well. One side note: A veteran reporter stopped by to volunteer for whatever is needed, which is appreciated. We’ll be tapping others for help too for must-do stuff like staffing the copy desk, web producing team, agate desk, the BND magazine and other stuff as it comes up
As far as the rest of our operation and content platforms, we will have coverage priorities that will dictate what we must cover using staff members and when we will use our Washington bureau or wire services to fill gaps.
If you have any thoughts or ideas, please come see me.

MANAGER MEETING A couple folks asked yesterday about the manager meeting downstairs on Thursday. That was a follow up meeting on logistics of the furlough to make sure we follow procedures correctly and an opportunity for us to ask questions about logistics as well.

Thank you everybody. We’ll work this through together. Please come and see me or your supervising editor if you have any questions, comments or ideas.

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