June 11, 2008
The McClatchy Co., former owner of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, always prided itself on not using layoffs as a financial management tool.
McClatchy is cutting 10% of its employees companywide, or about 1,400 people in all, which the company says will save it about $70 million a year. Not all of its 30 daily newspapers are getting hit equally: The Miami Herald is losing 17% of its staff, while the Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Sun News is only losing 4%. But the average is around 10%.
Given that McClatchy sold the Star Tribune 15 months ago because the paper was a relative laggard among its properties, one can only wonder what looms for the Strib if its former — and healthier — sister publications in the once-happy McClatchy family are now decimating their staffs. (That’s actually one of the few times you’ll see ‘decimating’ used correctly, BTW: it literally means a loss of one in 10.)
The Strib has been reducing staff through attrition for most of this decade, not filling positions as people leave. And two newsroom buyouts in the last year, of which I took the first, may have put the Strib ahead of the cost-cutting curve, so perhaps it doesn’t need to be as drastic now as papers that haven’t already engaged in aggressive cutting.
Still, it will be surprising if we don’t hear a similar announcement from 425 Portland in the coming months.