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Decherd: News to Remain "Essential to the Local News and Information Needs."

Robert Decherd
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Seeking Alpha has posted the transcript of yesterday's conference call during which A. H. Belo Corporation execs, including chairman Robert Decherd and Dallas Morning News publisher Jim Moroney, chatted with three analysts concerning the company's second-quarter earnings. But, of course, first and foremost on the minds of the analysts -- who were Peter Appert of Goldman Sachs, David Cohen of Athena Capital Management and Barry Lucas of Gabelli & Company -- was the news concerning 500 buyouts at The News and the three other A.H. Belo-owned properties. It has since been revealed that the company wants to reduce The News' newsroom staff from around 390 to 350.

In the transcript, Decherd also makes glowing mention of Briefing, the gratis daily to be tossed on the lawns of the $75K-and-up'ers who don't already take The News. Course, Belo has high hopes for the single-section freebie, which debuts August 27 and which was designed with the guidance of advertisers; says the A.H. Belo president and CEO, the company has "already closed more than a dozen multi-week commitments from a diverse group of advertisers including some high profile retailers." A Q from Appert and an A from Decherd after the jump about how some pieces of the paper may be "fairly substantially re-geared." --Robert Wilonsky

Peter Appert – Goldman Sachs

Thanks. Robert, this is the impossible question, but I'm required to ask you, and that is, how do you maintain editorial relevance and quality as you are doing such dramatic cuts in staff?

Robert Decherd

Peter, part of the method is to focus the product itself on the categories of news coverage and investigative reporting, editorial comment, and the entire gamut that we know is most meaningful to local audiences and the media usage environment that’s developed. We believe we can do this over periods the next several months. Clearly, there are some products and sections that are going to have to be fairly substantially re-geared, but the thought process behind that is well under way and we are just convinced we can put this together in a way that keeps our products more than relevant, actually essential to the local news and information needs of these communities. We have managed this process I think pretty ably over the last several years and we will still have a very large news gathering capability at The Dallas Morning News especially.

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