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Village Voice Media memo discusses layoffs, other cutbacks at Westword and its sister papers

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The layoffs at Westword mentioned in this blog didn't take place in a vaccum -- and had I not been on vacation until today, I would have seen them coming thanks to a memo issued by Village Voice Media chairman and CEO Jim Larkin and executive editor Michael Lacey (pictured). A printout of the December 31 document waited in my mailbox today; it features information about job cuts and "additional measures" intended to help the company weather the current economic storm. Read it after the jump. -- Michael Roberts

December 31, 2008

To all Village Voice staffers:

It's no secret that the chickens have come home to roost from the George Bush economy of the past eight years. We have all felt the downturn at Village Voice Media operations and, as you know, have been trimming expenses since December of 2007

Unfortunately, this year we have found it necessary to make staff reductions and have placed all staff openings on hold.

We are also going to take these additional measures effective January 1, 2009:

1) All VVM senior managers and officers, including Larkin and Lacey, are taking 15% pay reductions.

2) VVM Publishers and Editors are taking 10% pay reductions until our revenues begin to grow again.

3) We will suspend the Village Voice Media match into our 401-K plan. The plan will still remain open and we urge you to take advantage of the tax deferred personal savings advantages.

We hope that these measures will be the last steps we have to take until our business improves, however will continue to be watchful as 2009 progresses.

We believe in our local publishing and local digital businesses. It is our conclusion that the downturn in weekly publishing is largely cyclical and that as daily newspapers continue their decline, we will have numerous publishing opportunities in the markets we serve.

Many of you know that Village Voice Media digital businesses are growing and expanding quickly. As this current economic nightmare ends, Village Voice Media will be well positioned for the future in both digital and print.

We have navigated tough times before and although this seems the roughest stretch we've ever seen, we are confident that the content Village Voice Media operations produce and market daily will carry the day in whatever format the future might serve, print or digital.

We appreciate the effort each of you make to insure our success every day. Should you have any comments or questions please feel free to contact your publisher or either of us below.

Thank you,

Jim Larkin

Michael Lacey

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

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