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DallasNews Corp. Announces Companywide Voluntary Buyouts

The parent company of the Dallas Morning News says it plans to eliminate up to 6 percent of its workforce, or about 40 total positions.
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DallasNews Corp., the publicly traded parent company of the Dallas Morning News, announced today that it plans to eliminate up to 6 percent of its workforce. In a prepared statement, CEO Grant Moise said the move “will still allow the news department the resources to maintain the same comprehensive coverage throughout Texas.”

The statement says up to 40 full-time and part-time positions will be eligible to take a buyout. Moise sent a separate email to the company that indicates each department will have an allotted amount of “voluntary severance opportunities” beginning October 16. Department heads will inform employees whether they’re eligible; the email does not indicate whether the buyouts will extend into the news operation. The statement does say DallasNews Corp.’s marketing and advertising company, Medium Giant, will be included.

DallasNews Corp. recently stopped printing its Spanish language newspaper Al Dia and reassigned its reporters into different departments. It also killed its Briefing publication after failing to come to an agreement with its San Antonio-based vendor, Vericast. After that decision, 13 positions were eliminated in the distribution department and at Medium Giant.

In its last earnings call, in July, the company reported an net loss of $900,000 for the quarter, which was an improvement on the $2.4 million it lost in the second quarter of 2022. DallasNews Corp. also reported a $1.7 million drop in year-over-year revenue for the quarter, which it said was due to a 17.3 percent reduction in preprint advertising revenue.

The Dallas Morning News now has 68,846 digital subscribers, which is a 9.8 percent jump since 2022. Total subscribers are 142,436, down from 146,065 in the same quarter last year. With the 13 employees who were fired this summer, the company’s total headcount is 631.

“It is imperative to note that this will help us achieve our mission of becoming a sustainably profitable Company.  While we continue to look for areas to manage non-headcount and expenses first, we will keep reinvesting in the critical areas for our future,” Moise wrote in his email to staff.

The full email is below:

Colleagues,

I continue to be impressed with our Company’s ability to focus on our mission of helping make our community stronger and more prosperous.  What we do matters, and I know each of you feels a tremendous amount of pride and purpose when you come to work every day.

I want to take a moment to acknowledge your dedication and hard work, which does not go unnoticed.  Together, we are united in our goals.

Unfortunately, we face the same headwinds as the rest of our industry, and 2023 has been a year marked by revenue uncertainty that has fallen short of our financial expectations.  We are in a region seeing unprecedented growth and favorable economic conditions coupled with being a debt-free Company.  However, we need to take additional action to help us on our path to profitability.

To help accomplish this, the management team has decided to offer an enhanced voluntary severance program to certain eligible individuals across the enterprise.

Program Overview

I know there will be many questions, and while I cannot answer them all in this note, we will take this one step at a time.  Below are the current details of the voluntary severance offering:

  • A defined number of voluntary severance opportunities will be available in each department and will be made available beginning Monday, October 16, 2023.  Managers will contact those eligible for this program with more specific information regarding their package, including benefits and the last day worked.
  • You cannot opt into the offer, but you can talk with your department head if this program interests you.
  • The program will be in effect for 21 days after October 16, which gives those eligible three weeks to consider the offer.
  • An enhanced severance and benefits offering with up to 37 weeks of pay, six months of COBRA, or if you are not covered by the Company’s health care coverage, a one-time payment of $3,000, and other offerings.

Return to Profitability and Growth

We are about a year into making progress toward a return to profitability and, ultimately, a growth stage.  Important strategic decisions have been made to remove our weakest revenue lines of business while continuing to build on a foundation for enhancing our strongest areas of revenue growth.  You may recall our decision to exit the 14-year Vericast contract earlier this summer, which led to the Al Dia digital-only conversion and the sunsetting of Briefing.  This move allowed us to concentrate on those critical revenue areas without the drag of unprofitable lines of business.  It is an example of this program’s evolution and the deliberate steps we’re taking.

Actions like today’s announcement are one more element of that broader effort.  It is imperative to note that this will help us achieve our mission of becoming a sustainably profitable Company.  While we continue to look for areas to manage non-headcount and expenses first, we will keep reinvesting in the critical areas for our future.

Upward Trajectory

Outstanding work is being done across the Company, highlighted by our current “Deadly Fake” series in the newsroom, and client wins and renewals at Medium Giant.  We are also seeing positive outcomes from our recent adjustment in digital memberships, where we are transitioning from our volume phase to a pricing phase.  This momentum is essential as we continue to focus on our long-term future, even though we will have to make some short-term adjustments along this journey.

While voluntary severance offerings are never ideal, I am hopeful we will realize expense savings in a manner that empowers those participating to make significant life and career decisions.  This is a difficult but necessary step for us, and I appreciate your understanding and trust as we navigate these challenging times,

Thank you for all you do.

Grant

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Matt Goodman

Matt Goodman

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Matt Goodman is the online editorial director for D Magazine. He's written about a surgeon who killed, a man who…
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