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Archive for Monday, March 9, 2009

Kansas City Star expected to lay off 150 employees

March 9, 2009

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— The Kansas City Star expects to lay off 150 employees as its parent company, The McClatchy Co., looks to shed about 1,600 full-time jobs.

The Star is reporting on its Web site that publisher Mark Zieman told employees of the plans in a memo Monday morning. The cuts represent about 15 percent of The Star’s work force and corresponds with a 15 percent reduction McClatchy announced earlier Monday.

Zieman also told employees Monday that their wages would be reduced. Those making more than $100,000 a year will see a 10 percent cut beginning April 20, and those making less than $100,000 will have their salaries reduced by 5 percent. Wages for Star employees were frozen last fall.

Zieman said he expects his newspaper will implement its “expense reduction plans” within a week or so.

“Like all other companies and industries, we are making dramatic changes to survive this recession and come out safe and profitable on the other side,” he wrote.

The Star cut 120 positions in June as part of a move by McClatchy to eliminate 1,400 positions. In September, 65 workers either accepted buyouts or were laid off, and in November the newspaper announced it was laying off 50 more people.

McClatchy, which owns 30 daily newspapers, said the company’s layoffs will begin by the end of March, and that its severance costs are estimated around $30 million.

“We have been transitioning steadily from a traditional newspaper company to a hybrid print and online, news and advertising company for some time,” McClatchy Chairman and Chief Executive Gary Pruitt said in McClatchy’s announcement. “The effects of the current national economic downturn make it essential that we move even faster to realign our workforce and make our operations even more efficient.

“We previously discussed a plan to reach a targeted level of cost savings, but given the worsening economy, we must do more. I’m sorry we have to take these actions, but we believe they are necessary.”

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