Friday, February 13, 2009

Houston Chronicle to cut at least 10% of work force

The Houston Chronicle will cut at least another 10 percent of its employees, the publisher said in a memo distributed late Friday.

The Chronicle has been reducing its payroll the last four years. In 2004 it cut 240, in 2005 it cut 100 and last year it cut 70.

Here's the memo from publisher Jack Sweeney:

February 13, 2009

Dear Chronicle Colleagues:

As our newspaper continues to report the condition of the economy, we read about companies in all business categories adjusting their size to match current and projected revenues. The Houston Chronicle must do the same in spite of your diligent efforts.

Consequently, over the next 60 days, we will be reorganizing our employee base in all divisions around a reduction in force of at least 10 percent. As we restructure the Chronicle, rest assured that we are planning and researching many other cost saving initiatives so we can keep job eliminations as low as possible. I ask for your help, in that regard, so please keep submitting your cost savings ideas through our new program.

I hope you understand that difficult decisions must be made in challenging times and I ask for your patience as we work through this period of unprecedented change.


Jack Sweeney

Anyone who's been following the newspaper business the past year can't be surprised by this. It's happening at every big-city paper in the country.

It's pretty weird, though, that they'd pick Friday The 13th to lay the wood to the serfs.

Even though it's privately owned and therefore can keep its financial data to itself, we venture to guess the Chron is still profitable, given its monopoly status and its location in a city that hasn't felt the brunt of the current recession.

Still, it isn't probitable enough in the eyes of the Hearst Corp.

The company's San Francisco paper is losing money at an astonishing rate and it can't find a buyer for its Seattle newspaper, which probably will close altogether.

Normally, we'd express condolences at the developments to our friends at The Chron, Houston's only daily and one of the nation's Top 10 in circulation, but most of them have taken early retirement buyouts or been fired or have quit in disgust. Oh hell, good luck anyway to all the layoffees.


Anonymous said...

I've noticed that the 4-page "Business" section many times seems equal to the volume of pages in the "Classified" section.

I hope the pro-urban rail Lefties on the editorial board starve while mired knee-deep in their own rhetorical excrement.


Anonymous said...

Sweeney's memo is a joke. Lies and spin. The corporate hacks want blood and a lot of it. Forget 10 percent. They want something closer to 30 percent.

Anonymous said...

Banjo, this is good news. I am surprised they have not been bailed out either city, state or Federal. It is the early symptoms of what happened to the dinos.
Newspapers should not be dominated by money and profit, only influence and other value. Clearly, the Chronicle has failed by going with the latter and hopefully in no small part by not including the latter.

Anonymous said...

Lots of schadenfreud here. Why would a business antagonize its customer base? They are reaping the results of their editorial policies.

. . . . . said...

Does this mean I shouldn't submit my resume? :)

Anonymous said...

Many people have stopped reading newspapers because of the inherent left-wing bias that is constantly shown in many, many newspapers. People want to be educated about both sides of the issue, not preached to. As Roger Ailes said to journalists.."If there isn't anything in your piece that you disagree with, it's probably biased".
I see many, many one-sided pieces of journalism. Why is that? As Bill O'Neil of Investors Business Daily speculates, they probably learned that bias in journalism schools.

What this country needs is a national newspaper called "Both sides now", (remember Murrow?) and have a two-sided, completely unbiased newspaper that can educate us on the issues

Anonymous said...

I get a laugh at people who say papers like the Chronicle are left-wing biased. Trust me, the Chronicle is firmly in the pocket of the corporate, monied interests. Folks, just because something doesn't stay to the right as far as the National Review or other rags of that ilk doesn't mean they are left-wing.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:37 PM- So the Comical has no left wing bias? What do you consider left wing bias? The constant political hit pieces against anyone with Republican after their name yet barely a word about the constant sleaze by so many Democrats that one hardly knows where begin. Is that not left wing bias? What about the constant sympathy articles for death row inmates whose crimes are the embodiment of evil? What about the hit pieces on anyone who is a Christian and dares to follow their beliefs? Are your blinders bolted on?

Anonymous said...

I love it!
Here's a newspaper far far to the left of the average literate Houstonian (note the qualifier) and they can't understand why their subscribers keep dwindling. The Chronicle seems to think folks are obligated to spend their money in support of views to which they're adamantly opposed!
"Good riddance" is all I can say.

Anonymous said...

Ultimately, the lefty media is going to have to realize that you can only go against your readership for so many years on every single issue before they start looking at alternatives.

As a former resident of Clute, I'm glad to see sites like the Brazosport News out there providing another view of things down in Brazoria County.

We've started a new site which we think will change journalism on a statewide level. I'm linking your blog, I'll hope y'all will link us too.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anon 9:41...I think the bottom line right now is supporting the local economy and not schadenfreud=fueled glee at the crumbling of our local economic foundations. The Chronicle is already there, it employs a lot of people, it provides much of the news flow. It could be more fully engaged and challeneged to rise to higher newsworthy standards from all quarters.

Support the local economy and all the great local companies and local events and local shopping centers and mom and pops we have around town if you really want jobs to stay more secure. All of them depend upon local vendors for things. It all goes round. Realize that most of us can be touched by the local economic weather and that those backup jobs will only likely come guessed it, local, not national, economic factors. If it's broke, fix it up, don't throw out the baby with the bath water. We're all way, way more connected than you might think...and we have to live with each other. Your mailman could turn into your armed night burgler if desperate enough. Just my take.