By: Joel Davis

Legal Challenge To New Agency Dissipates

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The newly created Denver Newspaper
Agency (DNA) has offered voluntary buyouts to 330 non-newsroom
employees at the Rocky Mountain News and The Denver

Depending on seniority and job classification, the buyouts range
from $25,000 to $50,000 and include health-care benefits from
six to 18 months. The new joint operating agreement (JOA)
between the newspapers guarantees that no layoffs will occur any
earlier than spring 2003. But the agency said at least 60
workers must take the buyouts or some employees in prepress,
plate-making, and single-copy sales will face job transfers
because of overstaffing created by the JOA, which has led the
papers to share noneditorial functions. The Post and
News continue to print separate weekday editions but
combine on weekends.

Lester Stevens Jr., president of Denver Typographical Union
Local 49, one of two unions that represent the production
workers, told E&P that at present he knows of only “five
or six” workers – mostly older employees close to
retirement – out of the 330 willing to take the buyouts.
However, he indicated the number could rise if workers are
forced to transfer into jobs they may not want (the JOA
stipulates that salaries will remain unaffected). Possible
transfer positions include those of advertising representative,
custodian, and truck driver. “When push comes to shove, we’ll
see how many people are serious” about taking the buyouts,
Stevens said. He added that the buyout provision was created as
part of the JOA and did not come up for a vote between his union
and the second union involved, Graphics, Communications
International Union Local 440. “We have not had any input into

Meanwhile, Colorado furniture retailer Jake Jabs told the
Post he will not continue with his federal lawsuit
seeking to require the DNA to reinstate old ad rates, which rose
dramatically April 1. A federal judge in Denver declined on
April 12 to grant a preliminary injunction halting the JOA
between the Post and the News. “I’m not going to
pour good money after bad. I am going back to running my
furniture business. I’m done,” Jabs told the Post. The
other parties in the suit – a free-lance journalist and two
other advertisers – are also reportedly through with their
legal challenge to the JOA.

The ruling came one day after News parent E.W. Scripps
Co. announced a first-quarter profit dip due to lower
advertising revenue and higher newsprint costs. At the same
time, Scripps reported that it is beginning to see some
improvement in its Denver operation as a result of the DNA’s
recent advertising and circulation rate increases.

In addition to higher ad rates, subscription rates have risen
substantially at the two papers, which were embroiled in a
fierce advertising and circulation war prior to the JOA. Under
the DNA, “A Penny a Day” promotions are a thing of the past in
Denver. Seven-day-a-week home delivery of either the News
or the Post is now $66 a year. Sunday-only delivery of
the Post is $39 a year.

The weekend of April 7-8 was the first when only one newspaper
was printed on each day. The News prints about 770,000
copies on Saturday, and the Post prints about 920,000
copies on Sunday.

Going into April, the two papers published a daily total of
about 690,000 copies from Monday to Thursday and about 800,000
copies on Friday. While a breakdown of which paper publishes
more copies was not available, DNA spokesman Jim Nolan said the
numbers are close to being equal over a given week.

Joel Davis ( is West Coast editor for E&P.

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Copyright 2001, Editor & Publisher.

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