This morning, Belo Corp. issued a press release announcing that, at long last, it has provided to Dallas Morning News staffers details of the "Previously Announced Voluntary Severance Program." In short, it says it's "being offered to almost all newsroom employees" and that it's merely part of the "newspaper's overall strategic realignment to reduce expenses and more effectively allocate resources to areas that show the greatest potential for growth." The paper expects "at least 85 newsroom employees to respond to the voluntary severance program offer," which is still short of the 150 layoffs News'ers have been warned are on the way. Says the release about that particular issue: "Involuntary reductions are possible if voluntary severance program participation does not match the paper's strategic realignment goals." So, there.
Quoted in the release is DMN publisher and chief executive officer Jim Moroney, who says the paper's "shifting resources to meet evolving reader and consumer needs. Continual change is the new constant in our business, but it is not for everyone. Therefore, we are offering a voluntary severance package to those who may prefer another work environment." Because, you know, it's the staffers' decision, not management's.
The release also includes details about the buyout package:
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"The voluntary offer consists of a severance payment of two weeks of base pay per year of continuous employment up to 15 years, and three weeks of base pay for each year of service that exceeds 15. An additional lump-sum payment equal to 12 months of the employee's currently applicable COBRA health care premium is included."
Workers will have till August 23 to consider the buyouts and till August 30 to accept them, after which News management will consider and confirm "employee acceptances." For those who take the offer, September 15 will be their last day. --Robert Wilonsky
Update: Editor & Publisher has a piece on the layoffs this morning in which it quotes editor Bob Mong:
"'We will go through a process and see how many people apply,' he said...'Our goal is to really synchronize our staff size with the economic realities of the time,' Mong said, 'and to continue to be the leading news and information source' in the area.'"