From Lee Enterprises’ Dec. 7 SEC filing:
Effective December 7, 2015, the Company’s Board of Directors approved amendments to the Amended and Restated Lee Enterprises, Incorporated 1990 Long-Term Incentive Plan … to modify its vesting provisions in the event of a change of control of the Company, along with certain immaterial changes and corrections.
Lee owns the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Wisconsin State Journal and 44 other newspapers. Its share price, at last look, was $1.54.
* Lee Enterprises’ Dec. 7 SEC filing (4-traders.com)
UPDATE: Lee COO Kevin Mowbray replaces Mary Junck as CEO (stltoday.com)
Lee Enterprises closed its Regional Design Center in Lincoln, Nebraska, last week. I’m told by multiple sources that 36 jobs were lost. One tipster writes in an email: “Those who don’t transfer will receive severance pay. I’ve been with Lee for several years, and my golden parachute is a whopping $6,000. Others were offered far less.”
From: Doug Ranes
Sent: Wednesday, October 14, 2015 6:49 PM
To: #Newspaper Editors; #Publishers_Corporate Directors_and_CEO Team; LEE-RDC-Leadership
Subject: News Design Center consolidation
We are announcing today the realignment of Lee Design Centers as part of our continuing focus on compelling newspaper content and design. The changes in the Lee Design Centers will provide our local newsrooms with more time and resources to gather and produce meaningful and engaging local content.
Over the next several months, newspapers designed in the Lincoln design center will be reassigned to our centers in Madison and Munster. With this transition, our newspapers will become more aligned with our future design strategies, and it also creates opportunity to simplify a number of production processes and become more efficient.
Staff in Lincoln will be given an opportunity to apply for positions in Madison. Those displaced by the transition will receive severance.
If you have any questions on timing or operational issues, please call myself or Ben Cunningham.
Douglas L. Ranes
Director of Production
Lee Enterprises Inc.
In other Lee news, St. Louis Post-Dispatch carriers are accusing the newspaper chain of violating their operating agreement. The lawsuit’s claims include: Carriers aren’t being compensated properly for Sunday and weekend papers; and subscribers are being charged for papers that aren’t delivered when the subscriber is on vacation.
* St. Louis Post-Dispatch carriers sue Lee Enterprises (bizjournals.com) | (stltoday.com)
University of Montana j-school dean and former NPR reporter Larry Abramson was one of the first to tweet the news Thursday about Lee Enterprises closing its Montana state bureau, which serves newspapers in Billings, Missoula, Helena, Butte and Hamilton. I’m told the Billings Gazette newsroom learned of the bureau closing through Abramson and that staffers were called into an all-hands meeting five minutes after his tweet was posted.
The announcement is so big in the state that it’s on the front page of today’s Gannett-owned Great Falls Tribune. Its editor, Jim Strauss, says “the loss of the Lee Bureau is a hit to the watchdog role of Montana media.”
My sources say veteran Lee political reporters Chuck Johnson and Mike Dennison were told by Billings Gazette editor Darrell Ehrlick that they had a choice of a 40% pay cut or a buyout. The men chose the latter. (I’ve asked Ehrlick to comment.)
Ehrlick told a Montana Television Network reporter that Lee is changing the way it does state coverage, and that instead of focusing on state government and politicians, it will look at news on an “issue and regional level.”
A Montana journalist writes me in an email: “Utterly pissed about this and concerned about what this means for political coverage in a state where they [Johnson and Dennison] were essentially the only ones reporting.”
My regular readers know about Lee CEO Mary Junck and her executive team taking big bonuses after cutting newsroom staffs. On May 10, the University of North Carolina gave Junck an honorary degree.
* Lee closes its Montana state bureau (greatfallstribune.com) | (lastbestnews.com)
From today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch
This is akin to saying, “After the Titanic hit bottom, it quit sinking.”
Does David Nicklaus read the business pages of other papers? In virtually each instance, the bankrupt entity proclaims the Chapter 11 process to be the greatest thing to happen in the history of the business. What used to be a flag proclaiming the failure of a business and its leadership is now considered a virtue. Quick example: Heather Murren, co-founder and board member of the Nevada Cancer Institute after its bankruptcy filing last week: This is “a great day for us.” (Las Vegas Review-Journal, 12-2-2011). And don’t forget the proud posturing of the auto companies.
Read Nicklaus’ Post-Dispatch column || Lee’s share price