Palm Beach Post Has Near Death Experience

It wasn't exactly an obituary but it sure sounded like one when Palm Beach Post publisher Doug Franklin announced staff cutbacks at that newspaper today much larger than anyone had expected. The worst case scenario projected a cut of no more than 100 newsroom staff but, as posted in Bob Norman's The Daily Pulp, the final number was much larger:

-- 300 jobs will be cut company-wide.
-- 130 newsroom jobs will be cut.
-- Buyouts are being offered to employees with at least five years vested in the pension plan.

Here is the obituary-like memo from publisher Doug Franklin announcing the near death experience of the Palm Beach Post:

June 25, 2008

To: All Employees of Palm Beach Newspapers, Inc.
Re: Reduction in Workforce Plans

I am writing today to advise you of the changes that will begin taking place throughout our company this week.

Our plan is to reduce our workforce of 1,350 by more than 300 full-time equivalent positions across The Palm Beach Post, Florida Pennysaver, and La Palma. The Palm Beach Daily News will not be affected. The reductions will impact most departments throughout the company, as well as most levels in the organization. Roughly 130 of these reductions will come from The Post's newsroom; with more than 60 each in Advertising and Production, and more than 40 in Circulation. Roughly 80 positions throughout the company are already vacant through attrition, and many of these open positions will be eliminated to help us achieve the needed staff reduction.

The first phase of this workforce reduction will be a voluntary separation plan offered to most employees with a minimum of five years of pension vesting service. The voluntary offers may be limited in certain departments based on business needs. After we see the number of volunteers, we may limit departures in some departments to avoid disrupting essential services. We hope the voluntary phase of our plan will account for most of the necessary reductions. After the voluntary effort, we will move to involuntary staffing reductions in August to reach the appropriate staffing levels.

We have said often in recent weeks that we need to become a smaller company. This is a time of great change, challenge and uncertainty in our business; and the steps we are about to take are indeed difficult and painful to make. But they are necessary changes if we are to remain a strong and profitable company. A prolonged slump in our advertising revenues, increased competition from the internet, and an overall difficult economic environment have combined to make this type of cost reduction necessary. This is indeed an economic 'perfect storm.'