Creating a more attractive experience for newspaper and Web site audiences enhances advertising revenues. Conversely, cutting back too much on content while raising prices to readers and advertisers accelerates audience declines, which in turn undermine advertising revenues. It's pretty much impossible for any business, including newspapers, to increase market share and profitability by decreasing the quality of its product and driving away customers.
Ironically, Ms. Barrett's op-ed column was published in the Cape Cod Times five days after she sent a memo ordering all CNHI employees to take unpaid furloughs during the second quarter. That should enhance the quality of CNHI newspapers, a group that includes the Joplin Globe. Nowhere does it mention that one of the companies that has been systematically decreasing the value of its news product, through newsroom cuts, has been CNHI. The Turner Report has obtained a copy of Ms. Barrett's memo, which is printed below:
To: All CNHI Employees
From: Donna Barrett
Much media coverage has been given to Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc. (CNHI) CEO
Subject: Second Quarter Work Schedule Reduction and Pay Reduction
Date: March 11, 2009
The recession continues to negatively impact businesses across the country, including those we rely on for advertising revenue. Until we see meaningful recovery in the economy, we must reduce expenses while maintaining our ability to serve our customers and our readers. We believe we have found a solution that should help us avoid future staff reductions. We have chosen to implement reduced work schedules for hourly employees and reduced work schedules and pay reductions for salaried employees in the second quarter.
The decision was not made lightly. Of all the remaining options available, this will have the least impact on our ability to conduct business while delivering a level of cost savings that protects the company. Most notably, it lessens the likelihood of additional staff reductions, helping us to keep our team intact. We firmly believe this represents the most responsible course as we manage through a difficult time. Our plan is the following:
- A reduced work schedule will be implemented for hourly employees during the second quarter. Employees will take off five days without pay between April 1, 2009 and June 30, 2009. It is expected that no work will be done during this time. This applies to full and part-time employees. Part-time employees’ work schedules will be reduced on a prorated basis. These days off must be taken during the second quarter, and must be taken before any regular vacation or personal days. Regular vacation, personal and sick days may not be substituted for these unpaid days off.
- A reduced work schedule will also be implemented for salaried employees during the second quarter with a corresponding reduction in pay. The pay reduction will occur over the six pay periods in the second quarter. In turn, salaried employees will then take five days off from work between April 1, 2009 and June 30, 2009. Under this plan, the days off will not reduce the employees’ existing allotment of regular vacation, personal and sick days, but must be taken before any regular vacation or personal days.
Salaried employees may not perform any work during the five days they take off under this plan. This applies to all salaried employees, including myself.
- We are asking our unions to voluntarily agree to similar arrangements for the employees they represent. If our unions agree, this will help us avoid future layoffs.
- In order to ensure staffing needs are met, the off-days described above must be planned and approved in advance. Please submit the attached request to your manager by March 20.
I am optimistic that with the changes we’ve made, we will weather the current storm. We are fortunate to have such a dedicated team. Thank you for your many contributions."
While many newspapers, including I am sure, those in CNHI have run Ms. Barrett's op-ed and written effusively about her efforts to promote the industry, there has been little or nothing, written that I can find, except for this blog and a couple of others, and two CNHI newspapers, about the company's furloughs.
Again, what level of trust can CNHI communities, including Joplin, have in their newspapers when those papers are willing to publicize everyone's bad news but their own?