‘A sad and difficult time’ for Stars and Stripes

Stars and Stripes publisher Max Lederer warns his staff that “Fiscal Year 2014 will be a difficult year financially,”stars and that “Stripes is cutting muscle – staff who are producing quality work and are dedicated to serving the military community and success of the Stripes mission.”

He adds: “This is a sad and difficult time for the organization and for me personally, but I believe Stripes still provides a vital service and the future is a positive one.”

Lederer’s memo about Fiscal 2014 cuts is after the jump.

Stars and Stripes publisher’s memo:

All –

As you are aware, the new government fiscal year began today — without the funding needed to operate, which caused the first shutdown in decades. For Stars and Stripes, Fiscal Year 2014 will be a difficult year financially. There were many initiatives and successes during Fiscal Year 2013, demonstrating the continued value and need for Stars and Stripes products as well as the excellent quality of work produced by the Stars and Stripes staff worldwide.

Nevertheless, the continuing migration by our readers from print media to digital platforms, the drawdown of forces in the Middle East (while great news for the U.S. military, this presents a fiscal challenge for Stars and Stripes), the reduction in revenue resulting from the shrinking of the U.S. military as part of sequester, and reduced advertising spending all result in significant financial constraints. Stars and Stripes simply cannot continue to operate on a “business as usual” footing. Many different scenarios were considered in determining the best future course of action that will continue service to our readers and retain the financial viability of Stars and Stripes.

As I mentioned in the September 2013 newsletter and previous all hands discussions, all of the scenarios result in some degradation of service to the reader and a decrease in Stripes personnel. Our goal is always to maximize service to our readers and minimize the negative impact on staffing. We have been running a lean organization for years, so Stripes is not talking about cutting excess or nonessential staff. Stripes is cutting muscle – staff who are producing quality work and are dedicated to serving the military community and success of the Stripes mission.

As a result of the actions I list below, positions will be abolished during Fiscal Year 2014, starting in November 2013. These actions, to reiterate, are not because of poor performance or a lack of dedication. There simply are insufficient resources to retain the functions and personnel that Stripes currently operates with. This is a sad and difficult time for the organization and for me personally, but I believe Stripes still provides a vital service and the future is a positive one.

During Fiscal Year 2014 the following are planned actions. The projected dates may adjust as other realities require.

Reduce expenses by 15% from FY 2013 to FY 2014

Abolish 40 U.S. positions during FY 2014

Abolish print newspaper service to Spain Nov 2013

Abolish print newspaper service to Turkey Dec 2013

Abolish print newspaper service to Guam Jan 2014 but continue profitable Stripes Guam weekly and include an 8-page Pacific news update weekly

Reduce weekly comics from 16 pages to 8 pages Oct 2013

Reduce Monday through Thursday print newspaper from 40 pages to 32 unless advertising orders or breaking news warrant an increase

Introduce a paywall (metered) for Stripes.com Feb 2014

Reduce wire service content contracts

Eliminate “refresh of equipment” – break and fix mode

Eliminate almost all non-sales and newsgathering travel (except as required for safety or legal requirements)

Eliminate all training not required by regulation or law

No monetary awards or pay adjustments

Increase rates for off-base print newspaper home delivery

———

A news editor’s memo:
All,

Per the publisher’s note of last night and the commander’s note today, some departments have begun to issue dismissal notices.

This is a terribly hard time and there is nothing to say to assuage the anxiety, fear and depression.

None of these decisions has been taken lightly and we have done all we could to save positions. Unfortunately, as Max noted in his lunch discussion with us, there was no way to cut expenses without cutting personnel.

Initially, the plan was to issue all the letters at the same time, but that apparently was not possible, and so they are being issued as they are ready.

I know the waiting and wondering is awful.

Please know there is no one on this staff we can afford to part with or want to part with. We have a superb team of people and every one of you is invaluable.

I know it’s a lot to ask your patience. We have little control over the process.

If you have any questions, we’ll answer them as best we can, but at the moment there really isn’t anything we can add to what the publisher sent out last night.

Let’s all be kind to each other and support each other. This is a very difficult time and not a happy one.

Thank you.

Teddie
[Teddie Weyr, News Editor, Europe/Mideast]

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