Progress publisher mum on layoffs
How will the May 22 announcement by Richmond-based media conglomerate Media General Inc. that it will lay off 11 percent of its workforce– a total of 750 employees– affect Charlottesville's longest-running news outlet?
"We are reviewing all of our newspaper operations in an effort to be more efficient," says Progress publisher Lawrence McConnell in Friday's edition. "In some cases, the positions have not been filled and will not be filled, and are part of company reductions reported today."
McConnell declined to elaborate on how many
Progress employee are affected by the cuts.
Media General, a publicly held company that owns news outlets throughout the southeast– including the Richmond Times-Dispatch and the Waynesboro News Virginian– hopes to save $40 million ($53,333 per lay-off) annually with the cutbacks, which are planned by occur by October.
While word of the trimmings may not have played well in newsrooms from Tampa to Alexandria, they did play well a little further north: on Wall Street. On announcement day, word of pink slips and hiring freezes sent Media General stock (symbol: MEG) climbing by almost 10 percent to close at $16.40 per share.
It could be that Progress reporters have seen the writing on the wall. In the last year, the paper has lost some of its most prominent bylines with veteran political reporter Bob Gibson leaving the 166-year-old paper in March to direct UVA's Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership. Last year, veteran courts and crimes scribe Liesel Nowak departed in August to become communications specialist for the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. More recently, newsroomers Rob Seal and John Yellig have also departed.