Tag Archives: Newburyport

Bad news continues at New England newspapers

Bad news on two fronts today at New England newspapers owned by out-of-state chains.

First, the Providence Journal announced earlier today that it was eliminating 23 jobs. According to Jim Romenesko, the layoffs include photographers and the paper’s only librarian. Reporters and columnists were reportedly not part of the cut. The Journal is part of the Belo chain of Dallas.

Second, the Eagle-Tribune papers north of Boston have cut 21 positions at their four daily newspapers and several related publications, writes the Boston Globe’s Todd Wallack. The dailies are the Eagle-Tribune of North Andover, the Daily News of Newburyport, the Salem News and the Gloucester Daily Times. The company is owned by CNHI, based in Montgomery, Ala.

More: Wallack has more on the Eagle-Tribune layoffs.

Meanwhile, E-T reporter Mike McMahon, who covered Merrimack College hockey, writes about getting laid off.

Alabama chain whacks local papers — again

The Alabama state employees’ pension fund is taking the axe to its newspapers on the North Shore and in the Merrimack Valley — again.

CNHI, the Birmingham, Ala.-based chain that owns four daily newspapers and four weeklies north of Boston, has eliminated 36 full- and part-time jobs. The dailies affected by the layoffs are the Eagle-Tribune of North Andover, the Daily News of Newburyport, the Salem News and the Gloucester Daily Times. The chain whacked 52 jobs in 2008.

“We have done our best to weather economic difficulties, but like many companies we must take further steps to sustain the long-term success of the company by reducing staffing levels again,” a CNHI publisher, Al Getler, said in a statement posted online.

But it’s not all bad news for CNHI — if you’re fortunate enough to be near the seat of power. The company recently announced that it would move to Alabama’s state capital, Montgomery, and take up residence in a 12-story building being constructed by its chief investor, Retirement Systems of Alabama. The move is expected to take place in 2012.

We subscribe to the Salem News, and we continue to be impressed with the good job done by the reporters, photographers and editors every day. (Disclosure: Mrs. Media Nation was a Salem News photographer until eight years ago.)

But working conditions have been pretty difficult. For the past several years, most employees have had to take roughly a week of unpaid furlough every quarter. And now things have gotten considerably worse.

No doubt management is having a difficult time of it. The Salem News is pretty light on ads most days. But hollowing out the product year by year is a recipe for eventual closure, not revival. If there is a vision beyond continued cutting, it’s certainly not apparent to readers — or to the journalists who still work there.

Make me an angel that flies from Montgomery.

Hard times continue at CNHI

The pain keeps on coming at CNHI, a Birmingham, Ala.-based newspaper chain that owns four Massachusetts dailies: the Eagle-Tribune of North Andover, the Daily News of Newburyport, the Salem News and the Gloucester Daily Times.

On the heels of a holiday furlough several months ago, Yvette Northcutt, the company’s vice president of human resources, is now telling employees they must take five unpaid days off between April 1 and June 30.

CNHI, as you may know, exists mainly to provide Alabama schoolteachers with a comfortable retirement. Those of us who live on the North Shore or the Merrimack Valley can ponder that the next time we wonder why an important local event didn’t get covered.

The full text of Northcutt’s memo follows:

We have chosen to implement reduced work schedules for hourly employees and reduced work schedules and pay reductions for salaried employees in the second quarter of 2010. The details are described below:

  • We will implement a reduced work schedule for hourly employees during the second quarter of 2010. All hourly employees must take five days off without pay between April 1, 2010 and June 30, 2010. 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. These days must be taken during the second quarter, and regular vacation, personal and sick days may not be substituted for these unpaid days.
  • A reduced schedule will also be implemented for salaried employees during the second quarter with a corresponding reduction in pay. Salaried employees already affected by the first-quarter pay reduction will simply see their current base salary roll forward. The second-quarter pay reduction will be applied over all pay dates occurring during the second quarter. In turn, salaried employees must take five days off between April 1, 2010 and June 30, 2010. Under this plan, the days off will not reduce the employees’ existing allotment of regular vacation, personal and sick days. Regular vacation, personal and sick days may not be substituted for these additional days off.
  • We are asking our unions to voluntarily agree to similar arrangements for the employees they represent. If our unions agree, this will help us avoid future layoffs.
  • In order to ensure staffing needs are met, these off days must be planned and approved in advance. Please submit the attached Request for Second Quarter Days Off form to your manager by March 15, 2010.

Thank you again for your hard work, dedication and support. Please contact Human Resources if you have any questions.

Tough times at CNHI’s local newspapers

eagletribune_20091218In 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.

Dear Team,

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.

Best,

Al Getler

At newspapers, the slashing continues

Budget-slashing at newspapers continues, both locally and nationally.

At the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, 36 positions are being cut and zoned local editions are being eliminated, according to the Daily Worcesteria, which adds: “This is the journalistic equivalent of bunkering in at the last, strongest point and abandoning the outposts.”

Ironically, the Daily Worcesteria is part of Worcester Magazine, which is shedding positions following an ownership change, reports the, uh, Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

The T&G, as you probably know, is owned by the New York Times Co., whose New England Newspaper Group (the T&G, the Boston Globe and Boston.com) suffered a 24.5 percent loss in advertising revenue in July as compared to the same month in 2007.

Things are at least as grim on the North Shore and in the Merrimack Valley, as CNHI, the corporate owner of the Eagle-Tribune papers, announced this week that it is eliminating 52 jobs, writes Boston Herald media reporter Jessica Heslam. The chain comprises the Eagle-Tribune of Lawrence, the Daily News of Newburyport, the Salem News and the Gloucester Daily Times.

And it’s no better elsewhere. Alan Mutter, who writes the Newsosaur blog, tells us today that newspaper revenues are down $3 billion over the first six months of 2008, bringing revenues to their lowest level in a dozen years.

Even online revenues are slipping, Mutter says, which shows that what’s happening now has as much to do with the economic recession as it does with the stampede from print to the Web.