Allentown Paper to Cut 35-40 Jobs, Close Bureaus — Redesign Coming

By: E&P Staff

The Allentown Morning-Call is the latest paper to release information about Tribune-mandated job cuts and redesign of the daily.

Word emerged via a memo to staffers today from Publisher Timothy Kennedy. Three dozen or more jobs will be lost, and some will be “involuntary.” Bureaus will be closed and a major redesign is coming on Sunday.

Here is the memo, first posted on the Romenesko site.

I am writing today to update you on the status of the redesign and resizing of our paper. The new design will debut on Monday, July 28th. We will introduce the redesign beginning with a letter to our readers from me this Sunday with daily in-paper communication throughout the week. Beginning today you will be able to see prototypes displayed in both Publishers Hall and on the second floor in the newsroom. Later this week the prototypes will be available on the Intranet. We should all be proud of the creativity and energy of everyone involved in this effort.

In addition to the redesign, we also plan to resize the newspaper. Much of that was described in my e-mail a few weeks back. The planned reductions in newsroom labor and newsprint are a required response to the punishing economics that we face. Also on display around the building are our financial results through June. Cash flow was down 27% on an 11% decrease in revenues. Our outlook for the second half of 2008 is not much better. More than ever our financial results reflect the broken business model of the past.

While our plans are not final, I want to share with you some major decisions that we have made.

First, we plan to reassess and evaluate all newsroom bureau assignments. We will close our Quakertown and Lehighton bureaus and consolidate our Northampton County offices. While some of these positions will be eliminated, a significant portion will be reassigned. We have no intention of abandoning coverage of these areas. Major news will be covered through assignments from the Northampton bureau or the main office in Allentown.

Second, our editorial zoning strategy will change in order to streamline news production in the Local section. Two zones ? one for Lehigh County and one for Northampton County – will replace the current five-zone approach. For the vast majority of our readers (current 3rd, 4th and 5th editions) there will be little change to their daily Morning Call. Zoning for advertisers will remain unchanged.

Third, 35 to 40 positions in the newsroom will be eliminated. Some of these reductions will be achieved through the elimination of open positions but the majority will be achieved through involuntary terminations. If anyone is interested or would like more information, please contact a senior editor before Wednesday.

We expect to finalize this over the next 2-3 days. Supervisors will contact affected employees this weekend. These employees will receive an enhanced pension benefit similar to the package that was offered in the first quarter of this year. The enhanced pension benefit is equivalent to one week of pay for every six months of completed service. Indications are that this package may not be available in the future.

These changes are painful. As we move forward with this plan, we will treat our employees thoughtfully and respectfully. Unfortunately, these are actions that I have reluctantly concluded we need to take. I appreciate everyone?s professionalism and dedication as we work together in this difficult time.



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