Saturday, January 31, 2009

Furloughs announced at many Lee papers

Several Lee papers announced today that employees would be required to take unpaid time off. Editor & Publisher reports this is not a company-wide initiative, but Lee HQ was dodging phone calls and questions.

Here's the list so far:

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Non-union employees -- about 300 people -- must take off 1 week by March 31.

Rapid City Journal: As previously posted, four employees were laid off and employees must take time off by April.

Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier: All employees must take off 1 week by April 1.

Longview Daily News: Employees were asked to volunteer for furloughs. If not enough people sign up, they'll consider making them mandatory. (See the memo below.)

I fear there are others. Let us know if furloughs have been announced at your paper.

Waiver extended again -- due Feb. 6

Lee got another extension on that waiver on its $306 million debt from buying the Pulitzer papers. It was supposed to expire (again) on Friday. Now the company has until Feb. 6 to figure out something else or beg for another extension.

Still no word what the company plans to do when the notes on the Pulitzer purchase come due in April.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Rapid City Journal lays off 4, announces furloughs

The Rapid City Journal, in Rapid City, S.D., laid off four employees and announced all employees will be required to take un-paid days off, but said the details of that plan were not finalized.

(From the comments)

Daily News lays off 3*

The Daily News, of Longview, Wash., laid off two three employees on Wednesday.

* Update: Three employees were laid off: A photographer, the librarian and a pressman.

(E-mail tip -- send your tips to

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Bad news for Lee employees

Announcements were made today at some Lee papers: No raises. No company-match to 401(k)s. Furloughs -- already being done at Gannett, MediaNews and Landmark -- are being considered.

Thanks for all of the tips on this one.

Junck took home $2.5 million in 2008

Editor & Publisher's Fitz of Fitz & Jen takes a closer look at Lee's freeze on executive salaries.

The blog says CEO Mary Junck's 2008 salary was $850,000, but total compensation in 2008 was $2,543,453. That's 32.9 percent less than her compensation in 2007: $3,791,282.

Simply Hired says the average salary of Lee jobs, which range from an editor to an intern, is $26,000.

Daily Herald lays off 52

The Daily Herald in Provo, Utah, will lay off 52 full- and part-time employees and outsource printing to MediaOne of Utah.

Earlier this month, the paper announced it would consolidate sections and cut its classifieds two days a week.

Missoulian lays off 6

The Missoulian in Missoula, Mont., laid off four employees on Tuesday, and said two more will be laid off Feb. 13.

The Missoulian laid off seven people in August.

Montana Standard lays off 6

The Montana Standard in Butte laid off two full-time and four part-time employees Monday. Circulation customer service calls for the Standard, Helena Independent Record and Casper Star Tribune will be outsourced to a call center at the Billings Gazette.

The Standard laid off seven people in September.

Times of Northwest Indiana lays off 7

The Times of Northwest Indiana in Munster, Ind., laid off seven employees Monday. At least two were from the newsroom.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Lee lists 64 job openings

Lee Enterprises has been laying off employees. Why, then, are there still job postings on its website?

Napa Valley Register lays off 2

Missed this one: Paper Cuts reports that The Napa Valley Register laid off two employees.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Execs' salaries frozen

Salaries for the Lee execs at the top have been frozen. That means:
  • CEO Mary Junck: $850,000
  • CFO Carl Schmidt: $482,000
  • VP Greg Veon: $361,000
  • VP Kevin Mowbray: $335,000
  • VP of HR Vytenis Kuraitis: $268,000

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

No more plane updates

The Lee plane, now owned by Blackwell Aviation, used to be tracked by FlightAware. Well, the new owners don't want us to know where the plane is -- they've requested that tracking stop. Send an update if you see the Lee plane: The number on the tail is N890LE.

La Crosse Tribune lays off 10

The La Crosse (Wis.) Tribune laid off 10 employees, one from the newsroom.

That brings this year's total to 132.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

From the blogosphere: 'If only they cared about journalism'

"Lee is desperate to rejoin the New York Stock Exchange, which doesn’t want to trade piddly-ass penny stocks. If only the company cared as much about journalism as it does about its stock price."

Seth Hettena on Lee's reverse stock split

Post-Star cuts page width

The Post-Star in Glens Falls, N.Y., cut its page width by 1 inch starting with Tuesday's editions. Publisher Rick Emaneul said the newsprint reduction will save three positions at the paper.

1Q earnings released

First-quarter earnings were released today, and stock fell 13.89 percent to close at 31 cents a share.

CEO Mary Junck says the company is cutting costs, including 10 percent of its workforce. So far, I've counted up 122 layoffs since Jan. 1. Adda comment or send an e-mail if you know of other layoffs and/or outsourcing:

Layoffs at Wisconsin State Journal

At least five employees were laid off at in the Wisconsin State Journal newsroom on Monday. Twelve positions were expected to be cut from Capital Newspapers, the JOA entity of the Journal and non-Lee The Capital Times.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Lee tries reverse stock split

To stay on the New York Stock Exchange, Lee is going to try a reverse stock split. That will raise the stock price, but the move usually doesn't work out so well: About 75 percent of those who do a reverse split end up trading lower.

The reverse stock split will convert as many as 10 shares to a single share; the company will present the plan to its shareholders at its annual meeting on March 10. Stock is still below 40 cents a share.

Ex-Quad-City Times employee jailed on fraud charges

A former Quad-City Times employee and his ex-wife have been jailed for conspiring to defraud the Davenport paper.

Earl Beasley, a former Times building and maintenance manager, was sentenced to 12 years 6 months in prison. Julie Beasley was sentenced to 8 years in jail. Both already had been convicted of dozens of counts of conspiracy, fraud and money laundering.

Tucson Citizen could close, jeopardize JOA

Gannett says it will close the Tucson Citizen on March 21 unless it finds a buyer. The Citizen is an afternoon paper, and operates under a joint operating agreement with Lee's Arizona Daily Star. Production, distribution and sales for both papers operate under the name Tucson Newspapers Inc. The Citizen is much smaller than the Star (17,000 circ vs. 117,000), but TNI profits are split equally between Gannett and Lee.

Chances of finding a buyer aren't high: The Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Rocky Mountain News are also for sale.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Waiver extended ... until Jan. 30

Lee did get an extension on that waiver on its $306 million debt from buying the Pulitzer papers. It was supposed to expire Friday. Now the company has until Jan. 30 to figure out something else. The extension does help the paper avoid technical default, and land in bankruptcy.

The notes on the Pulitzer purchase are due in April. No word on what the company will do then either.

First-quarter earnings due Jan. 20

Lee will release its first-quarter earnings on Jan. 20. In that quarter, more than 100 employees have been laid off.

Citizen names new publisher

Michael Rifanburg, the advertising director of The Citizen in Auburn, N.Y., has been promoted to publisher. Rifanburg has been interim publisher since October, when Rick Emanuel was promoted to publisher at the Post-Star in Glens Falls, N.Y.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Muscatine Journal lays off 4

The Muscatine (Iowa) Journal laid off "3 1/2" employees Wednesday. I don't know how you can lay off 1/2 a person -- I'm counting it as 4.

That brings the total up to 117. Know of other layoffs at Lee papers? Leave a comment or e-mail

Casper Star-Tribune lays off 15

13 employees were laid off Tuesday at the Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune: 6 in circulation, 3 in the newsroom, 3 in advertising and 1 in marketing.

The same day, 2 employees were laid off from the Casper Journal.

That brings the first-quarter total to more than 113. Send tips and story links to

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

More layoffs?

The end of the first quarter brought almost 100 layoffs -- so far. Are there more? Send tips and story links to

Monday, January 12, 2009

Billings Gazette lays off 8

The Billings Gazette laid off 4 full-time and 4 part-time employees Monday: Two in the newsroom, one in circulation, two in advertising and three in production. Raises have also been suspended.

Hanford Sentinel lays off 12

12 employees were laid off Wednesday. The memo:

To: LCCN Employees
Re: Reduction in Force & Restructure
Date: January 7, 2009

This afternoon, we are making a difficult announcement. It is difficult because for the first quarter of this year we accomplished the goals we set for ourselves - the things we control. But there are many things we can't control. Our local, state and national economies continue to struggle. Because of this, we are making necessary adjustments early in anticipation of a rough second quarter. To that end, we are reducing our workforce by 12 full time positions. None of these positions are in our newsrooms. Most of these positions revolve around our non-core production capabilities.

To accommodate this reduction, we are also restructuring some positions in Advertising and Production.

The pre-press department in Hanford & Selma will now report to Jackie Kaczmarek, press & mail operations in Selma and Hanford will be managed by Ken Horiuchi who will report to Rich Glasson. Also, we've created a position in production that will manage consumption of paper, ink and other production supplies. This position will also report to Rich Glasson.

Earlier in the week we restructured Advertising with the move of Angela Stow to Selma, Frank Carreiro to Kingsburg and Jimmy Fryar to Ad Manager in Hanford. Also, Jennifer Fawkes and the advertising artists will now report to Jimmy Fryar.

Attached you will find the new structures for Advertising and Production

These reductions and restructure will allow us to provide our current list of services, including commercial print, to a shorter list of accounts. It also allows us to grow with the economy in the future.

But it can't stop there; we need your best work. Remember that our readers and advertisers are going through a lot of the same trials we are. We need to be an important part of their day. We need to provide them with news and information that they will miss if they don't read us for one day.

We all decided to get into this business because of a passion for newspapers, don't short-change this passion because of things that are out of our control. Effort, dedication to our job and a positive influence on our work environment are all things we can control. If we focus on these things, it will make the tough times more manageable. It will also make the good times even greater when they get here.

Jan. 16 could be make or break day

Jan. 16 could determine Lee's future.

Lee hasn't been doing so well with deadlines. The last one was Dec. 29, when Lee's 10-K was to be filed with the SEC. It was filed Dec. 30. That report included a note from the auditor that it has "substantial doubt about (Lee's) ability to continue as a going concern."

The first test will be whether the company manages to iron out a deal on the terms of a loan used to finance the buying the Pulitzer papers. Either the company will have an agreement by Friday, or it will be in default, which could then force it to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. (Tribune Co. recently filed for Chapter 11. It also has sold papers and listed property for sale. Lee hasn't sold any papers or property -- unless you count Lee Lodge.)

If the company does get a deal, then it is scheduled to repay $306 million in April. Lee has already said it doesn't have the money.

Daily Herald cuts sections, classifieds on 2 days

The Daily Herald in Provo, Utah, will consolidate to two sections on Mondays and Tuesdays, and will stop publishing classifieds on those days.

From the blogosphere: 'Lee is already dead'

"Reading the company’s Dec. 31st 10-K filing led me to the conclusion that Lee Enterprises is already dead."

Agree? Disagree? Post your replies in the comments section, below, or send e-mail confidentially to

Journal Gazette/Times-Courier closes office

The Journal Gazette/Times-Courier has closed an office in Charleston, Ill. The papers are zoned editions of the same paper: The Journal Gazette in Mattoon and Times-Courier in Charleston. A former employee says all major decisions were already made in Decatur, Ill. The papers are part of Lee's central Illinois newspaper group.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Price reduced on Lee Lodge

The Lee Lodge is still for sale. But the price has been dropped to $3.83 million.

A month ago, it was listed for $4.5 million.

"Historic Lee Lodge" includes 6 acres on Flathead Lake, adjacent to the Polson golf course. There are five houses, three cabins, a duplex, indoor pool, tennis court, a conference center and a maintenance shop.

Suburban Journals of St. Louis lay off 39

The Suburban Journals laid off 39 employees Friday and will consolidate editions. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch laid off 39 on Thursday.

Back in November, CEO Mary Junck said the company would cut this year's operating expenses by 6 to 7 percent. We've hit the end of the first quarter -- looks like this is how they're cutting expenses.

Friday, January 9, 2009

From the inbox: 'Never have I seen such poor management'

From a former Lee employee:

I was a Lee employee from July of 2006 until June of 2008 when I resigned. Never have I seen such poor management. I am so happy to be out of an environment where the good loyal employees are treated like crap, and the bad employees are rewarded. This company needs to find a better way to do business. I know that circulation is declining, but I believe with different business practices that the newspaper industry could survive the current economy.

This seems to be a sentiment I hear a lot. Thoughts?

St. Louis Post-Dispatch lays off 39

14 newsroom employees and 25 employees from other departments were laid off Thursday. The memo from the P-D publisher says very little:


St. Louis, MO. (Jan. 9, 2009)

St. Louis Post-Dispatch Publisher Kevin Mowbray

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch today announced a work force reduction of 39 positions. The areas affected are Operations, Newsroom, Advertising and Finance.

“While print and online audience remains strong and stable, we continue to feel the financial challenges from a decline in advertising revenue caused by the recession,” said Publisher Kevin Mowbray. “Today’s work force reduction is necessary and difficult for everyone, but we will continue to produce and deliver the most comprehensive news coverage to 1.2 million readers each week.”

A couple of readers sent in information on the layoffs -- thank you. You can send tips and links to

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

What's next for Lee?

Lee finally filed that end-of-year report and, as expected, the auditor added a line saying it has "substantial doubt about (Lee's) ability to continue as a going concern." $306 million in debt is due in April.

The New York Stock Exchange also warned that the stock will be delisted if performance doesn't improve.

Newsosaur Alan Mutter has a comprehensive look at what's next for Lee.