In reporting on downsizing woes at local newspapers, it sometimes seems as though the Boston Globe and GateHouse Media are the only two players in Eastern Massachusetts. But they’re not alone.
Among the more significant is CNHI, a huge national chain that competes with GateHouse on the North Shore and in the Merrimack Valley, owning the Eagle-Tribune of North Andover, the Daily News of Newburyport, the Salem News and the Gloucester Daily Times.
This week, staff members received an e-mail from Al Getler, publisher of the Eagle-Tribune, the Gloucester paper and several smaller publications, announcing some holiday uncheer: a company-wide day off without pay that must be taken by Dec. 26. Media Nation received a copy of Getler’s e-mail earlier today.
“Folks, I know what a tough year it has been and please know how much I appreciate all of your hard work and dedication. I am seeing signs that things are slowly beginning to get better. My hope is that, in the second half of 2010, this is all a distant memory,” Getler wrote.
CNHI, based in Birmingham, Ala., is an investment for the Retired Alabama Teachers Association, whose members presumably are less than concerned about the quality of local news coverage north of Boston.
The Media Nation family subscribes to the Salem News, which does a remarkably good job despite a succession of furloughs and cutbacks. (Disclosure: Mrs. Media Nation is a former Salem News photographer.) This latest cut, though, seems like cruel and unnecessary punishment. The full text of Getler’s holiday message follows.
Today I received an email from Donna Barrett, CEO of CNHI.
You have often heard me speak about the commitments we have to people that invest in our company. Donna described a critical financial target that is necessary for us to hit before the end of the year.
Unfortunately, hitting this target means we will take one additional day off without pay between today and December 26, 2009.
The requirements are this:
All hourly employees must take off eight hours without pay between now and December 26. It is expected that no work will be done during this time. This applies to full- and part-time employees. Part-time employees’ work schedules will be reduced on a prorated basis.
A reduced schedule will also be implemented for salaried employees with a corresponding pay reduction. Salaried employees must take off one day between now and December 26.
The way the North of Boston Media Group management team has decided to do this is as follows:
All newspaper offices will be closed for business on Christmas Eve. This means for many who were scheduled to work, this will become your unpaid day. If you planned to take that day off as a vacation day already, you now have to reschedule that vacation day.
Editorial, production and circulation will work on a minimized schedule for Christmas Eve. The schedule will be announced as soon as possible.
There will be no in bound telephone classified ads processed on Christmas Eve.
There is one less day to process ads as all salespeople are included in this additional day off. Plan accordingly and watch for production deadline changes.
Ads will be produced to announce this change in policy.
Please note that we will not have employee withholdings for benefits on our December 31 paychecks, which will help mitigate the impact on take home pay. This applies to those that have benefits deducted.
Folks, I know what a tough year it has been and please know how much I appreciate all of your hard work and dedication. I am seeing signs that things are slowly beginning to get better. My hope is that, in the second half of 2010, this is all a distant memory.
Please see your supervisor, manager or director with any questions you may have. And as always, feel free to contact me.