The 411 on The 111

Some Morning News staffers we know have taken to calling Belo CEO Robert Decherd "Howard Hughes" because he's been kinda absent of late. Well, we assume that's why. Nothing to do with jarring, we don't think.

Well, at least there's no more guessing to be done about the final number. It's 111, for those keeping score at home, as in 111 Dallas Morning News employees taking the paper's buyout offer. In case you missed it in this morning's paper, where it was buried on page 3 of the Business section, here's the paper's story on the subject--written by "staff reports," who from the list I've seen, isn't taking the adios offer. In short, Belo says it's spending $6.7 million in severance payments to save $9.9 million in annual compensation and benefits. The paper also says it's actually eliminated 200 jobs this year alone, with 30 of them going to the Internet. Grand total of savings: $21 mil.

Maybe that's why Robert Decherd and Jim Moroney don't seem all that choked up by the bad news; not many tears shed for the departed in today's story, which has all the raw emotion and heartfelt sentiment of a press release penned by a total stranger. People don't really talk this way, do they? Like this from Moroney, the paper's publisher and CEO: "The number of confirmed acceptances meets our strategic newsroom realignment goals, and we will have a very deep and capable team of about 450 professionals to continue producing a newspaper of distinction." Or Decherd, Belo's president and CEO: "Belo is intensely focused on the right allocation of resources enterprisewide, building up necessary competitive capabilities, and maintaining marketing and new product investments, while reducing costs wherever possible."

Aw, quit it. You're gonna make us cry. But the story this morning does have a happy ending: "Belo stock closed Wednesday at $16.12, up 12 cents." --Robert Wilonsky

Bonus MP3:

Jeff Buckley, "Last Goodbye" (rare acoustic version)