Employees of the Daily Herald are being offered voluntary buyouts to reduce staffing levels and operating expenses throughout the company, Paddock Publications announced Tuesday.
Staffers in all departments have until November 10 to apply for buyouts, which will provide one week of severance pay for each year of employment up to a maximum of 26 weeks, along with health benefits paid for three months.
Doug Ray, chairman, publisher and CEO of the Daily Herald Media Group, said in an interview that the company is in “a very strong financial position,” but faces declining newspaper advertising revenue that’s prevalent in the industry.
“We’re trying to get ahead of the curve here, and we need some breathing room to execute on the strategy to grow the business in new and different ways,” Ray said. “We need to be true to our journalism, we need to be content people — that’s all we do here essentially, that’s what we have to sell. But at the same time we have to find new revenue sources. So the challenge that we have, like every other newspaper, is managing this continuing decline. We’ve been able to weather that better than almost everyone.”
Ray said he believes the buyout offer will be well received by many of the company’s nearly 500 employees.
“I think we’ll get a good number of people who want to do it. The goal for this buyout is we hope to get a win win. It’s a win for those people who want to do it, and it’s a win for the company because we’re able to smartly reduce expenses and figure out how to go from there,” he said.
While no specific targets have been set in terms of dollars or people, the company has not ruled out the possibility of layoffs. The Daily Herald has not undergone general layoffs since 2009.
“The Daily Herald and Paddock Publications are in one of the strongest positions we’ve been in in a long time,” Ray said. “But it doesn’t take long for that to change. We remember what happened in ’08, ’09 and ’10. If you get behind in terms of your strategy and don’t deal with expense side of what’s happening, then you have to make cuts that strike at the heart of what you’re doing. This won’t do that. This won’t change much.”
(This blog operates under an agreement with the Daily Herald. I am a full-time employee of Paddock Publications.)