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The newspaper game: Broke at the bottom, flush at the top

Wednesday, Feb 6, 2019

* As we’ve discussed before, the Belleville News-Democrat has been shedding experienced staff over the past several months. The BN-D is owned by McClatchy.

From the Columbia Journalism Review….

On Friday morning, McClatchy President and CEO Craig Forman emailed employees to let them know 450 staffers across the enterprise, all aged 55 and over, would be offered early retirement.

In his email on Friday, Forman attributed this latest reduction in staff to “the culmination of the enormous progress McClatchy has already made in our transition to a digital future,” but the response among reporters didn’t match his optimism. “McClatchy laid off a bunch of folks including me back in 2018,” reporter Christian Boschult tweeted as the news broke. “Hopefully the folks who don’t take buyouts aren’t let go.” […]

In 2017, Forman’s take-home pay from McClatchy was $1.7 million, excluding restricted stock. His newest contract with the company, dated January 25, 2019, includes a base pay of $1 million, a bonus of $1 million, and an additional $35,000 monthly stipend. According to Segal, this stipend will be used to pay for Forman’s travel, housing, office, and security expenses. This monthly stipend alone, which is up from $5,000 in his previous contract, could fund several reporters’ salaries every year.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Blue Dog Dem - Wednesday, Feb 6, 19 @ 12:23 pm:

    For 25 yrs I was a BND(and Southern) faithful. It is now not thick enough to line the litter box.

  2. - Highland, IL - Wednesday, Feb 6, 19 @ 12:31 pm:

    The BND purchased the local Highland News-Leader several years ago, and proceeded to gut the news staff. Most articles now seem to be written by someone straight out of college. These young reporters don’t ask any probing questions. Most articles seem like press releases from the subjects in the articles.

  3. - Give Me A Break - Wednesday, Feb 6, 19 @ 12:36 pm:

    We dropped the Monday and Tuesday editions of the SJR a couple years ago. Like what Blue Dog about the BND not having much, the SJR is not think enough for a litter box most days.

    If not for local sports and Bernie and Finke, we would dump the SJR. They have taken to filling it with wire service stories and articles that have appeared in the Tribune or NY Times days earlier.

  4. - Collinsville Kevin - Wednesday, Feb 6, 19 @ 12:37 pm:

    Still a BND subscriber, but just barely. Some days it’s so lightweight it blows into the neighbors’ yard. Sadly they are still a mouthpiece for the radical right though. Don’t think I want any part of McClatchy’s “digital future.”

  5. - Motambe - Wednesday, Feb 6, 19 @ 1:53 pm:

    The BND has been slipping for years. Ads have increased substantially, local news coverage has decreased. Quality local writers have been shown the door. McClatchy’s ownership and “digital” future have hastened its decline. No more local editorial pieces, and some days no editorial page at all. Publishing the paper in Kansas City means no late sports scores, including east coast night games. And their once excellent Friday night high school sports coverage has been eliminated. People in the south area are buying/switching to the Southern Illinoisan out of Carbondale.

  6. - the Patriot - Wednesday, Feb 6, 19 @ 2:06 pm:

    My advice to any BND employees on the way out, file your carpal tunnel cases before you retire.

    Just sayin…

  7. - Joe M - Wednesday, Feb 6, 19 @ 2:15 pm:

    Tri States Public Radio just had a segment on this topic that highlighted Gatehouse Media, which owns many Illinois newspapers. The audio is a good listen if you have the time.

  8. - Last Bull Moose - Wednesday, Feb 6, 19 @ 2:16 pm:

    The old newspaper business model is broken. The value of newspaper advertising is greatly diminished. Not clear that readers are willing to pay all the cost of the news they say they want.
    At least the CEO of McClatchy makes less than the Bears field goal kicker.

  9. - illini - Wednesday, Feb 6, 19 @ 2:50 pm:

    At one time I had 3 daily newspapers delivered as well as 2 county weeklies. Over a relatively short period of time I declined to renew all of them.

    I realized that much of what was being passed off as news was in reality 2 days old. I still read the online postings or at least skim the headlines of at least 7 or 8 papers, including the BND. The internet provides me with as much current news as I chose to read, and they also provide me with “breaking news” alerts as stories are developing.

    I hate it that the print news media has become a dinosaur, but this is the reality. There are still some very good reporters - but for how long.

    The only upside to the fact that I no longer rely on the print media is that my recycling bin for paper is much smaller and I am saving at least $800 a year in subscription fees.

  10. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Feb 6, 19 @ 2:55 pm:

    –On Friday morning, McClatchy President and CEO Craig Forman emailed employees to let them know 450 staffers across the enterprise, all aged 55 and over, would be offered early retirement.–

    Is that kosher, the age restriction for a buyout package?

    Because an offer of “voluntary retirement” is followed by “involuntary dismissal” as night follows day.

  11. - Earnest - Wednesday, Feb 6, 19 @ 3:10 pm:

    >The newspaper game: Broke at the bottom, flush at the top

    It’s unfortunate to see and not unique to the newspaper industry. Locally-owned businesses get sold to large corporations. The already-profitable corporations cut employees and locations to increase profit. It’ll be okay though, because more money is getting into the hands of the Job Creators and Tax Payers. /s

  12. - Klaus VonBulow - Wednesday, Feb 6, 19 @ 3:13 pm:

    It’s nice he has the assurance of a paid security detail. Do his reporters in war zones get anything?

  13. - Sue - Wednesday, Feb 6, 19 @ 4:54 pm:

    It’s simply the evolution of the industry- the internet revolutionized the way people absorb news. Very few people under the age of 35 to 40 would even think of buying a newspaper or reading a print version if they got it for free. Verizon just wrote down its 4 billion purchase cost of its on line news assets. Put out a truly worthwhile paper on line and people will pay for it but the old concept of classified and other adds paying for the newsroom is gone forever. What is interesting is that the applicants to journalism schools is at all time highs

  14. - Blue Dog Dem - Wednesday, Feb 6, 19 @ 7:49 pm:

    I might add. I hate not having to read a newspaper in the morn.

  15. - Question More - Thursday, Feb 7, 19 @ 3:23 am:

    A big problem has been a Retreat from Real News and calling Stenographers Reporters. Their jobs are trumpeting the agenda of the 1%. That big pothole in front of my house must be part of “Russian Collusion.”

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