As word broke about six major layoffs at the Denver Post, media observers were getting their first chance to digest a memo from Rich Boehne, CEO of E.W. Scripps, which owns the Rocky Mountain News. In the note, Boehne announces salary cuts for supervisors at Scripps publications nationwide, plus the end of 401(k) matches, pension freezes and more. Signs of the times are being erected at a dizzying pace, aren't they?
Click "Continue" to read Boehne's memo.
From: Boehne, Rich
Sent: Wednesday, February 18, 2009 12:34 PM
Subject: Difficult News
I need to let you know about some difficult decisions that affect all of us here at Scripps. In an effort to control our expenses during these tough economic times, we are making a series of changes to the way we compensate employees.
Do we really have to make these cuts now?
Yes. Scripps has been a vibrant and successful company for 130 years and we intend to be around as an industry leader and attractive employer for many more years to come. Maintaining financial health and flexibility must be a top priority in this environment. The economy is throwing new and bigger challenges at us each day and we intend to have the strength to weather the storm.
I know it's of little comfort as you read this letter today, but please believe me when I say there will be better days ahead. Our economy is busted at the moment and recovery won't come without pain, but the core value of the media business -- the news, information and entertainment that we provide each day - has never been in greater demand. There's reason to trust that our current sacrifices can result in future dividends for all us who help create the next successful chapter of the news industry and The E.W. Scripps Company.
Much more specific information to come, but here are the company-wide cost-reduction measures. We intend to take the following types of cost-reduction measures, and will take these measures in a manner consistent with the company's legal and contractual obligations:
--- Pay reductions -- Senior managers, from your local leadership to executives at the corporate office, including me, took pay reductions in January of 5 to 15 percent, but it is now clear that pay adjustments need to be broader. You will be hearing shortly from your publisher how this will affect your newspaper . --- Suspension of the 40l (k) plan match -- While you can continue contributing to your retirement savings account, the company match will end beginning with the first pay in April. The match has been an important part of our 401(k) plan and we hope to reinstate it when business conditions improve.
--- Pension plan freeze -- At a date to be determined soon, the pension plan will be frozen and we will offer a transition benefit for those who are close to retirement. Everyone will receive additional details on all the changes - including the transition benefits - when we finalize decisions about the freeze.
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Rest assured that your accrued pension benefits are protected by law. More information and the specifics for your newspaper will come from your publisher. You can direct questions to your manager, HR director or publisher.
We recognize the changes outlined above will be a financial burden for many and I can assure you these decisions were not taken lightly. A comprehensive and wrenching process led us to these decisions, but we must act now to reduce costs and remain competitive. To help meet the challenges we face, please try to do all you can to better serve our advertisers and readers during these tough times for them and us.