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The Baltimore Sun meet The Wire, fiction meet truth, truth meet fiction

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by heyabbott, Feb 13, 2008.

  1. heyabbott

    heyabbott Well-Known Member

    Although David Simon might being grinning, Tim Franklin is a real journalist, not some Kool Aid drinking Tribune flunky.

    Memo to Baltimore Sun employees

    Dear Fellow Employees,

    2008 has been a year of great contrasts so far. Here at The Baltimore Sun, we're focused on being the owners of our business, producing great journalism, improving our revenue performance and delivering targeted new products and services our customers want. We all came into this year with some cautious optimism about what we can accomplish in those areas, and I still believe we will achieve our goals.

    Meanwhile, though, the economy is not cooperating. Just this week, we had a report that Baltimore-area home sales dropped 40% in January, an ongoing trend that has hit our Real Estate advertising revenue hard. Last week, Macy's announced the elimination of 2,500 jobs, and chain store sales were weaker in January 2008 than they have been in decades – clear signs that our retail advertisers also are feeling the pinch. Every day, media-watching websites report another newspaper or magazine that has had to reduce its staff, including The Washington Post, which is also closing its College Park production plant. The economy may not yet be in a recession, but it's clearly on the way, and in the news business, we are feeling it now.

    To keep our business strong despite these difficult circumstances, the Baltimore Sun Media Group is announcing a new voluntary buy-out program. Our goal is to reduce the size of our workforce by about 45 positions, spread across the company.

    Our plan is for department managers to notify employees who are eligible for this buy-out program by Friday, and direct them to Human Resources for further details. Here's a brief overview of the program:

    Employees who participate will get the equivalent of one week's pay for each six months they've been with the company, with a minimum of six weeks pay and a maximum of 52 weeks.
    Those who go will have the option to continue their medical benefits at the company-subsidized rate for a period of time, based on their length of service.
    Participants will be able to choose a lump-sum payout or several annuity payment options, but because the buy-out is being funded by the Tribune pension plan (which is currently over-funded), employees will want to review the tax consequences of their options.
    Packets will go out this week to eligible employees, who will have two weeks, until February 29, to decide whether to apply. The last day of work for anyone accepted into the program will be no later than March 31.
    Talks will begin shortly with the Guild and the Mailers union regarding their inclusion in a voluntary program.

    Two more important notes about this program: as always, we hope to achieve our targeted staff reduction entirely through this voluntary incentive program. But we do need to reduce our staffing by about 45 positions, so if we don't get enough volunteers, we'll be forced to consider involuntary separations. Also, Tribune has said that any buy-outs or severance packages offered after January 1, 2009 will not be as generous as the one being offered this time.

    Losing valued friends and colleagues is always hard, and it would be easy to wonder if this is a step back from our plan to play offense and charge forward into a brighter future. But the truth is, to get to the rewarding results I believe lie ahead for us, we will have to make some sacrifices along the way. This voluntary buy-out program is a difficult but important one.

    As for that brighter future… even amid the challenges we now face, there are signs of hope and growth. Stay tuned.


  2. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Well-Known Member

    C'mon, hope and growth! Wash this bad taste out of our mouths!
    Good ol' hope and growth! We just know you're right over the next hill.
  3. heyabbott

    heyabbott Well-Known Member

    Hartford Courant and Chicago Trib also announce cuts
  4. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    Another newspaper got a similar memo today. Trying to get my hands on a copy now.
  5. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    Let me save you the effort.
    They went out to all Zell business units.
  6. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    No fair peeking!
  7. They'll just have to do more with less.
  8. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    Apparently they did. LA Times and Newport News got similar letters. I'm told 12 cuts in Newport News but none in the newsroom.
    Also heard some interesting news about another chain that I will pursue today in my spare time.
  9. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Thanks, Grim Reaper!
  10. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    Don't Kill The Messenger.
  11. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    You and Joe Williams would be a bunch of fun at a coffee shop. ;)
    After about 45 seconds, I would be looking for something a little stronger.
  12. OwlWithVowel

    OwlWithVowel Member

    The memo is from Tim Ryan, The Sun's publisher, not Tim Franklin.
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