‘Post-Dispatch’ Completes Buyout, 60 Exit

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By: The Associated Press and E&P Staff

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a property of newspaper publisher Lee Enterprises Inc., said Friday it completed an early retirement offering.

The offer was limited to the first 60 eligible employees that accepted it. Workers had to be at least 50 years old and have worked at the company a minimum of 10 years. The offering included cash payments based on service and enhanced retirement benefits.

There will be less than 60 positions cut as a result of the offering as some jobs will need to be refilled, Kevin Mowbray, publisher of the Post-Dispatch and a vice president of Lee, said in a statement.

The offering will result in estimated annual savings between $3.9 million and $4.4 million after the necessary positions are refilled. Lee will recognize an initial cost of $10.6 million in fiscal 2007 related to the offering, with approximately $3.7 million of the cost for the cash payments.

An excerpt from the paper’s article today follows.

The Post-Dispatch will say goodbye to 60 retiring employees today.

In a move to cut expenses in a difficult year, the newspaper in August extended offers of voluntary early retirement. Staffers accepting the offers include reporters, photographers, editors, columnists and production workers, among others…

Editor Arnie Robbins said, “I’m sad that we’re losing colleagues that have such wisdom and institutional knowledge. But I’m convinced that we will continue to
produce strong journalism with a strong public service mission.”

Layoffs, buyouts and hiring freezes have become increasingly common nationwide.

The annual savings from the Post-Dispatch’s early retirement program is estimated at between $3.9 million and $4.4 million. The initial cost will total about $10.6 million and will be recognized in the 2007 fiscal year of Lee
Enterprises Inc., the paper’s Davenport, Iowa-based parent company.

The Post-Dispatch bucked a national trend of falling daily circulation in the six months ending March 31, as its paid weekday circulation rose 0.4 percent. Paid Sunday circulation fell 3.7 percent. Lee Enterprises said last week that same-property advertising revenue for the company fell 1.1 percent so far this year compared to the same period in 2006.

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