Paper woes: DP furloughs all; PortFolio folds
Facing mounting debt, Daily Progress parent company Media General Inc. has announced plans to furlough employees, the Daily Progress reports. Beginning in March, all 5,600 employees at The Daily Progress, Richmond Times-Dispatch and the many other newspapers and television stations the company owns must take 10 days off without pay.
According to Ray Kozakewicz, manager of corporate communication for Media General in Richmond, employees are free to choose which 10 days they want to "take off," as long as they take four in March and the rest before the end of the third fiscal quarter in September. In addition, the company announced it would stop matching 401(k) contributions April 1 until the end of the year.
According to Daily Progress managing editor McGregor McCance, the paper has decided to handle the bulk of the furlough requirements by "closing" on four Mondays in March, three Mondays in May and three Mondays in July. "At the same time," he says, "we'll still have some newsroom people and circulation people working to cover stories, produce the paper, and get it to subscribers on those Mondays.
"It won't be easy and we may not do it exactly the way the Times-Dispatch or the Tampa Tribune do it," says McCance. "To me, the bottom line is we're going to meet the furlough requirements that are being done by Media General to free up cash in response to the poor economy."
And Media General is not alone.
On the same day as this announcement, February 19, the parent company of a free weekly publication serving the Tidewater area announced that the February 24 print edition of 26-year-old PortFolio would be its last. While Landmark Communications is pulling the plug on PortFolio, the company hopes to preserve some of its content in the Thursday edition of sister publication, the Virginian-Pilot, according to a report in the Pilot.
According to an AP report, ad revenue for the U.S. Newspaper industry as a whole has dropped 40 percent since 2006, and newspapers across the country are feeling the pain.
Meanwhile, Charlottesville's daily will soldier on.
"We'll be trying our best to put out a solid local report as we try to do every day already," says McCance. "And the paper will be published and delivered each day."
–last updated 2/20/09 12:20pm