For weeks, insiders at the Denver Post have predicted that the broadsheet wouldn't be able to convince 37 employees to take its latest buyout offer -- and judging by a June 9 e-mail from Post editor Greg Moore (pictured), they were right. Moore's tone may be optimistic, but the bottom line is, fewer than half the targeted number of employees signed up.
Here's the memo:
The buyout window has closed and I am pleased that we had 16 takers. While that's less than the 37 we hoped would volunteer, it is a big help toward meeting our budget goals. I know for those who signed up, it was a hard decision. If they all indeed leave, there will be huge void to address. We will miss you and I deeply appreciate all you have contributed to The Post. Tough decisions remain. Many of you are anxious about what will happen next. We will have to wait until the seven-day recision period expires for the people who signed the agreement only yesterday. Once that passes, we will have a firm idea of who will be here. I can tell you that in the next several days, we will begin to give shape to our future that will include a reorganization of the newsroom to more clearly focus on the kind of paper we want. Broad reassignments will be involved. I ask for your patience as we work through this difficult time. I will share information as soon as I can. Meantime, I really appreciate the fact you have fought through distraction to continue to deliver some terrific work. More terrific work and opportunities are in our future. Please hang in there.
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The seven-day recision period noted above refers to a one-week span during which employees who agreed to the buyout proposal can change their mind. If none do, that leaves 21 positions up in the air -- and the contract governing the Post calls for any layoffs to be based on seniority. Some wiggle room remains, though. If Moore is being asked to hit a certain dollar amount, as opposed to a body count, he could cut a bunch of senior management with hefty salaries and perhaps retain more current reporters -- or he could save the suits and slash the ranks of journalists on the streets. Another possibility: Veteran staffers who didn't take the buyout could be moved to onerous beats in the hope that they'll quit without compensation -- a hardball tack, but a cost-effective one.
We should know more in the coming weeks -- but whatever happens is guaranteed not to be pretty. -- Michael Roberts