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Dimming at the Star-Telegram, As 130 Staffers Are About to Lose a Job

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As mentioned below, The McClatchy Company this morning announced it's laying off and buying out some 1,400 employees amongst the dozens of papers that make up the newspaper chain. Moments ago, the McClatchy-owned Fort Worth Star-Telegram announced precisely how many of its employees will be excised during the coming days: 130, or 10 percent of the staff throughout the entire paper -- "from the newsroom to advertising, circulation and the press operation." Publisher Gary Wortel told the staff this is a "painful, but necessary step."

Sections will also be consolidated; subscription rates will also be raised. This comes a week after Unfair Park learned that the Star-Telegram's print version will no longer take breaking-news items after 11 p.m., forcing readers to go to the Web in yet another money-saving effort. Wortel's full memo to the staff is after the jump. --Robert Wilonsky

June 16, 2008

To All Employees:

I am writing today to tell you that the Star-telegram is reducing its workforce by approximately 130 positions, or about 10% of the total.

This is a painful but necessary step. We're operating in a time of great change and challenge for our operations, for The McClatchy Company and for the newspaper industry overall.

When we announced our management restructuring 2 months ago, we did not have plans for further staff reductions. Since then our economic downturn has accelerated, reducing revenues dramatically. This requires the painful but necessary step of a more aggressive realignment of our staffing models.

As you know, we have already been transitioning to new ways of doing business. We're confident in our ability to navigate to a stable and prosperous future as an integrated media company serving as our community's most trusted supplier of news and advertising information.

Reductions will occur in most departments. Although many of these job eliminations will occur through involuntary layoffs, there also will be opportunities for employees to voluntarily elect a severance package where reductions are occurring in work groups of two or more employees. If enough employees do not take the voluntary option, then the work groups will be reduced according to least tenure. Employees affected by this reduction are being notified as quickly as possible and being provided with information about the severance program and their last day. They will be provided with a transition package that includes a severance pay allowance and benefits continuation. We also will provide outplacement services.

As a news company, we have often reported on such transitions in other industries. Now we face the painful reality of severing employment ties with valued friends and colleagues, many of whom have served the company well for many years. We are sorry to do so, and will do everything possible to make their transition as smooth as possible.

Other workforce reductions were also announced today throughout McClatchy. A press release detailing those actions – amounting to about 1400 jobs, or 10% of the company's workforce – is available at www.mcclatchy.com. As CEO Gary Pruitt says there, "McClatchy is committed to remaining a healthy, profitable company positioned not only to meet current challenges, but to take full advantage of opportunities for growth as we restructure to support our mission of delivering high quality news and information."

The Star-Telegram is making other changes in its business model and operations, as well. We have implemented our first home delivery price increase in 3 years, have plans to convert NIE papers to an electronic edition, and we're in the middle of a process that leads to selling some adjacent property. On the product side, we have plans to combine or merge some sections. Details on these changes will be announced later.

This will also be a difficult and disorienting time for those of us who remain on the job. Your continued effort and dedication are the foundation of our faith in the future, and we know from experience what a talented and productive group you are. The public service mission that has always animated us remains unchanged, but we will need to make many other changes as we adapt to today's far more competitive media landscape. We will be working diligently alongside you to ensure that we do so.

If you have any questions about the transition program or the voluntary transition option, please contact human resources. If you have any questions about departmental or structural changes, please contact your department manager. Thank you again for your continued service and cooperation.

Gary Wortel President & Publisher Star-Telegram

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