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Pay Cuts (But No Layoffs) at Dallas Morning News

The coronavirus pandemic has reached our daily newspaper.

A letter went out to Morning News employees today from president and publisher Grant Moise. It outlines how the company is cutting costs to weather the pandemic. Most of the newsroom will take an 8 percent cut. There are a few issues here at which one could raise an eyebrow if one were so inclined: that Moise earns somewhere around $800,000 in total compensation, that CFO Katy Murray was promoted last week to executive vice president despite having overseen an embarrassing accounting snafu in November that has yet to be straightened out. But the really disturbing part of this announcement, the thing that makes my blood boil? Moise is a two-spaces-after-periods guy. Disgusting. Here’s his letter:

Team,

That word “team” has never felt more appropriate than at the current time.  The coronavirus pandemic has made us all realize there are many things out of our personal control.  In times of uncertainty, feeling unified and connected is critically important.  I have confidence that our Company will come out of this stronger and more resilient than ever.  In order to accomplish that, we need to weather the storm together, which means there will be no immediate layoffs or furloughs as a result of the pandemic.

However, we have entered a new economic reality where our growth in audience and paying members is not enough to offset short-term challenges in advertising revenue.  The Management Committee has come up with a plan to reduce non-compensation expenses aggressively while still positioning the Company for long-term strength when this situation abates.  These non-compensation expenses include reductions in newsprint, cost of goods sold, travel and entertainment, trucking, utilities and capital expenditures.  Over the next few days, your management team will walk you through these changes and how they impact your respective area of the business.

Because the non-compensation expense reductions are not enough to carry us through this unprecedented time, base salaries will be reduced effective with the April 24 payroll in the following manner:

· $45,000 and below = 3% base salary reduction
· $45,001 and above = 8% base salary reduction
· CFO and Publisher = 10% base salary reduction
· CEO & Board of Directors = 17% base salary reduction

In addition, employees on the corporate bonus plan are expected to forego the 50% of their bonus opportunity for 2020 related to financial objectives.  Senior executives’ total compensation may be reduced by as much as 27 percent.  Our hope is that when economic conditions change for the better we will be in a financial position to restore part, or all, of the pay reductions for all employees.

We are all in this for the long term.  Our responsible stewardship of the Company’s balance sheet and our operating units will allow us to come out of this downturn in a position of strength.  We will persevere as one team serving one of the greatest communities in the country.  Our work has never been more important on both the media and marketing services sides of our business.

Thank you for all you are doing to help strengthen our community during such an important time.

Sincerely,

Grant Moise
President and Publisher, The Dallas Morning News

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