Journal Sentinel Inc., the Milwaukee daily newspaper that’s the flagship of Journal Communications, yesterday began a voluntary employee separation program to cut the size of its staff. The plan is to eliminate 35-50 positions, or about 3.5-5% of the newspaper staff – and if the voluntary program doesn’t accomplish that, there may be some involuntary pink-slipping.
Under the program now underway, employees with 10 years or more service as of October 26th are eligible to apply for voluntary separation, including a cash severance component and a healthcare benefit component. The actual separation date is expected to be around November 15th.
"It is never easy to call for staff cutbacks, but we must continue to align our cost structure with the realities of reduced revenues in the newspaper industry," said Elizabeth "Betsy" Brenner, President and COO of Journal Communications’ publishing group. "It is important to note that while not yet finalized, Journal Sentinel expects to be down nearly 60 full-time-equivalents (FTE’s) in our core business at the end of the third quarter. Including the voluntary separation program announced today, we expect a total reduction of approximately 100 FTE’s by year-end," she added.
RBR observation: Just one more example of just how tough the newspaper business is these days. We can’t imagine Journal Communications taking the route that Belo took this week to separate its newspaper and broadcasting divisions into separate companies, but Journal Broadcast Group is clearly in a more attractive business right now than the one that launched the parent company back in 1882.