By Paul Gillin | February 25, 2009 - 12:53 pm - Posted in Business News, BusinessModel, Layoffs, NewMedia, Newspapers

New York’s Hudson Valley is edging perilously close to a news blackout. Just a week after Journal Register Co. pulled the plug on a phalanx of weeklies in the area and the weekly Ulster County Press shut down, two daily newspapers said they will reduce frequency from seven to five days a week. The Catskill-based Daily Mail and Hudson Register Star will publish their final Sunday editions this weekend. Beginning next week, the Sunday and Monday papers will be replaced by a weekend edition published on Saturday. That issue will have all the usual Sunday features, including coupons, USA Weekend and Sudoku. Thank God they kept Sudoku.

Cost savings drove the decision, said Publisher Roger Coleman in a prepared statement. “This schedule will also enable us to produce the most compelling, useful local newspaper that fits the community’s lifestyle and support level,” he added, vacuously.

There was no word on possible layoffs. As befits the leader of an organization dedicated to serving to the public’s right to know, neither Coleman nor officials at the company’s parent organization returned a reporter’s calls.

Outgoing USA Today Editor Says Don’t Be So Glum

Ken Paulson

Ken Paulson is on his way out as editor of USA Today for a new job as president and chief operating officer of the Newseum. He gives an interview to Forbes that’s filled with USA Today-like sound bites. The newspaper industry isn’t in as deep trouble as people think it is, Paulson says. Rather, it’s in a transition. “Home Depot is in the midst of massive layoffs, but nobody’s writing off hammers,” he says, using a rather odd analogy.

Paulson has some interesting perspective on USA Today‘s steady performance in a turbulent industry. The paper’s basic four-section architecture and design principles haven’t changed in 24 years. He sees peril in major redesigns at some Tribune Co. papers. “It’s just important not to risk alienating readers who will read you until their dying day,” he says.

He also explains how USA Today broke new ground in the use of anonymous sources. Reporters are no longer permitted to keep sources confidential from their editors. Read Jack Shafer’s tap dance on this issue to see why this is a great policy. Paulson even suggests, tongue in cheek, that USA Today pioneered the fundamentals of Web page design. Reading this engaging and insightful interview, you get the sense that one of the reasons USA Today has held up so well is Ken Paulson.

Miscellany

The New York Times Co. suspended its dividend, citing the need to conserve cash. The move is mainly adding insult to injury, since the Times Co. already slashed the divided from 23 cents to 6 cents last November.

Lee Enterprises has managed to push back some of its debt obligations for a couple of years. In a series of complex negotiations, the company deferred payments on some of its debt until 2012, significantly reducing its short-term obligations in exchange for much bigger payments in the future. The announcement lifted Lee’s stock, but the moves amount to shuffling around existing debt rather that reducing it. Alan Mutter explains.

“It’s not so much … a desire to make a lot of money, but it’s just a desire to not get ourselves into such a hole … that we can’t come out of it.”   Those were the blunt words from Paul Smith, president of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Inc., as its flagship paper announced plans to cut 60 jobs, or about 4.5% of the workforce. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette is the largest newspaper in the state, employing about 1,300 people. Give the publisher credit, though.  These are the first publicly announced layoffs the Democrat-Gazette has had since the industry crisis began

And Finally…

Forbes layoff counterIt had to happen.  As the number of layoffs at America’s 500 largest companies nears half a million, several blogs have started to tote up the gloomy numbers. They include The Layoff List, Layoff Blog, Jobless and Less, The American Lawyer Layoff List (lawyers are people, too, we think), and the TechCrunch Layoff Tracker. Most were born late last fall. Let’s hope they live short and brutish lives.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 25th, 2009 at 12:53 pm and is filed under Business News, BusinessModel, Layoffs, NewMedia, Newspapers. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

2 Comments

  1. February 25, 2009 @ 4:17 pm



    Buffalo News extends buyout offer .
    Layoffs are possible.

    http://www.bizjournals.com/buffalo/stories/2009/02/23/daily33.html?t=printable

    Posted by EA
  2. September 12, 2009 @ 8:07 am



    The Hudson Register-Star did have layoffs. I was their managing editor and I was let go at the end of January, before the company decided to reduce its publication frequency. The move came shortly after the Journal Register company shut down its weeklies in the area.

    Posted by JTS