Layoffs at the Star-Telegram

A memo just went out to all employees from publisher Gary Wortel outlining the cutbacks. There will be pay cuts, and 12 percent of the workforce will be laid off. Full memo after the jump.

To: All Employees

From: Gary Wortel

Subject: Workforce and Wage Reductions

Date: March 5, 2009

As you know, the Star-Telegram along with other McClatchy newspapers have been working for weeks on expense reduction plans to deal with the unprecedented revenue declines due to the economic recession. Unfortunately, because revenue declines have worsened since January, our expense reductions will be more severe than originally anticipated:

1. We will reduce our workforce by about 12% of all employees. Please know that we did everything possible to minimize the impact of layoffs as outlined in the other expense savings plans below. Reductions will occur in virtually all areas of our operation. Although some of these job eliminations will occur through involuntary layoffs, there also will be opportunities for employees to voluntarily select a severance package where reductions are occurring in work groups of {two} or more employees. If enough employees do not take the voluntary option, then the work groups will be reduced according to least tenure. All affected will be notified today and provided with information about a transition package. If a voluntary option is being offered to your work group you will receive written notification with additional information today. The package being offered is identical in terms to the ones that were offered last year.

2. We will implement a wage reduction for employees whose compensation exceeds $25,000 annually. $25,000 to $49,999 will receive a 2.5% reduction, $50,000 to $99,999 will receive a 5% reduction and over $100,000 will receive a 10% reduction. This applies to everyone, including myself, with the exception of some operational employees, who will receive reduced work hours. We will be providing you with a letter outlining your current pay and what your pay will be when the reduction goes into effect. The letter will be distributed no later than March 20th. These wage reductions will be effective with the pay period beginning April 6, 2009. Your first paycheck to have the wage reduction will be April 24, 2009.


4. Senior management bonuses have been eliminated for 2009 and advertising sales management compensation is being reduced.

5. We are also planning for a one-week unpaid furlough program in the 2nd half of 2009. We are hopeful that business will improve and we can avoid having to implement this, but we think it’s important you know it’s a possibility. If implemented, details will be provided at a later date.

6. Finally, as a reminder, McClatchy announced on Feb. 5 its decision to significantly reduce operating expenses as a result of ongoing and unprecedented economic pressures and revenue declines. The company announced a freeze of the company’s pension plans and the temporary suspension of the 401(k) company match. Both take effect March 31, 2009.

These are difficult decisions, especially when it means saying goodbye to so many friends and colleagues. But we must make these expense reductions to protect the financial health of the newspaper, adjust to economic challenges and remain competitive.

We also must make major strides in growing revenues. Just last week we announced the launch of our new free entertainment publication, Ink Edition. The product will publish weekly starting in April and is expected to produce significant ad revenues. We’re also seeing great success in our behavioral targeting sales efforts utilizing a new ad platform technology. More of these efforts are needed for us to succeed long term.

We know these repeated announcements about the need to reduce expenses and restructure our business are difficult and disruptive, but we ask for your continued focus during these challenging circumstances. Your contributions and dedication are the keys to our future.

Human resources will be setting up informational meetings in the next few days and will also be available to answer any questions about the severance program or wage reductions.

Gary Wortel, Publisher

I don’t know what No. 3 was or is. It appears to have been a typo.


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30 responses to “Layoffs at the Star-Telegram

  1. yeah, right says:

    3. ?

    It’s so like the Star-Telegram to need a correction.

  2. Obama's Seat says:

    Content for #3 was deleted due to cutbacks.

  3. Will Write 4 Food says:

    So…does a 15% cut apply to those making between $150k and $199k?

  4. Jennifer says:

    You can see the response to the same writing on the wall at TDMN. Where they originally tried to foster intelligent discussion and curtail racist and rabid commentary online, the editors and bloggers responsible seem to now be falling over one another to troll (or should I say trawl?) up as many commentary hits possible by posing the most incendiary and outlandish “topics” they can imagine. Surely this profiles a solely online edition in the very near future demanding just such responses.

    When the smoke clears at the end of their latest layoffs in March it will be interesting to see which types remain, the industrious, heads down workers or the master baiters.

    The way things are going at City Hall, I surely hope at least some of the former remain.

  5. JD says:

    WTF’s going on there? Is there anyone helming the ship?

  6. Chris Chris says:

    Look for the DFW Morning News to happen in December of this year as the two papers consolidate their staff.

  7. superkaty says:

    sounds like they aren’t the only ones…D??

  8. This sucks! says:

    I heard one of my favs Adam Mcgill was just let go. 🙁

  9. Biff Ryan says:

    I’ve heard major cuts at D as well.

  10. My vote for the name is the DFW Morning-Telegram

  11. Kris says:

    Love how they are adding a weekly paper to compete against the Fort Worth Weekly with the news of layoffs. Adding boxes, racks, drivers and…oh yes….photographers for party picks sounds dumb right now. Reminds me of the last time they decided to cut circulation and then raise the rates on all active accounts. Great ideas ST. Keep them coming.

  12. Tim Rogers says:

    Please stay tuned. I’ll give you the D update when I can.

  13. samandEric says:

    Please don’t turn off blogging again.

  14. JD says:

    And by “there” I meant D. Heard about Adam as well 🙁

  15. Matt says:

    Maybe he’s waiting for the Underpants Gnomes to figure out #3.

  16. GuiltyBystander says:

    No. 3 was mistakenly deleted by executive editor Jim Witt; he didn’t want the entire newsroom to see it.

  17. Gastronome says:

    What’s a telegram?

  18. Dean Thomas says:

    At least we still have the Weekly.

  19. BeekNee says:

    If this is a “daily conversation about DALLAS” why are you talking about Fort Worth??

  20. Gwyon says:

    Adam McGill gone? Say it ain’t so.

  21. Adam’s out? oh heck no.

  22. Troll Doll says:

    BeekNee: Because no magazine is an island.

  23. publicnewssense says:

    Bring back the tabloid Fort Worth Press, a little paper that cared.

  24. ben says:

    BeekNee: I think it’s because rules don’t apply to Tim.

  25. Snark Man says:

    With apologies to Shel Silverstein and Muhammad Ali, I offer my poetic Snark Man tribute to the now-departed Mr. McGill


    Had ’em!

  26. News Junkie says:

    Excuse me, Kris, but rich philanthropic types love to see themselves in print. Party photos are a survival strategy.

  27. Ink-StainedWreck says:

    Hey, public, the Star-Telegram people care, just as the people at the Press cared. It’s just that the people on top at the Star-T are jerks, and the Press had William Dean Singleton. (Hey, that was a redundancy!)

  28. Kris says:

    Excuse me News Junkie, but it is also a way to dumb down a publication. Just my two cents.

  29. Former says:

    What’s the definition of insanity? Isn’t that doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result?
    As long as management continues to have icewater in their veins, and not listen to front-line employees, nothing is going to change. The problem @ S-T is the “Yes Men and Women” in middle management.
    Make the S-T a Fort Worth community newspaper and you will see it turn around.
    Until then, someone might want to step in and educate advertising management on what consists of the value proposition.
    Advertising management should be the first to be laid off!