Landmark Combining Wage Freeze With Chain-Wide Unpaid Furloughs

By: E&P Staff

Landmark Communications, publisher of The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk and eight other dailies, Monday announced a chain-wide wage freeze that will be combined with five unpaid days off during the first half of 2009.

The furlough will start with Presidents Day Feb. 16, and occur on one Monday a month through June, reported The Roanoke (Va.) Times in a story by Jenny Kincaid Boone.

Landmark, a diversified media company that also publishes the Trader vehicle classified advertising publications, has been hit hard by the industry downturn. Last year, it put all its papers up for sale, later withdrawing them from the market.

Gannett Co. also recently announced a furlough to be served during the first quarter of the year, which it said was to avert layoffs. Smaller papers, such as the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, have reduced hours in the same effort.

All Landmark newspaper offices will be closed during the furloughed days, though the papers will publish, employees were told.

In a memo to employees the Greensboro (N.C.) News & Record, Publisher Robin Saul wrote:

“To minimize inconveniences and confusion for our customers and employees, the News & Record will notify the public we are “closed for business” on these five designated days. We will publish a newspaper and online products on all of these days; therefore, those employees required to work (and those employees regularly scheduled to be off on that day) will have their unpaid day scheduled for a different time during that same payroll period.”

Because the intent is to reduce payroll, employees cannot use vacation days on furlough days, Saul added.

“Even though we anticipated these tough times and budgeted for these poor market conditions, the actual performance of our revenues has been worse than expected,” Saul said in the memo, which was first posted on the blog by Ed Cone, a Ziff-Davis managing editor who also writes an opinion column for the News & Record.

This story has been corrected to include the correct number of dailies Landmark publishes, including five through its Landmark Community Newspapers subsidiary.

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