'St. L. Post-Dispatch' In New Buyout Move

By: Calling 2007 a "difficult year for the newspaper industry," the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said Thursday it will offer employees early retirement packages.

The offer comes less than two years after about 130 employees, including about 40 in the newsroom, retired early in exchange for better pension and insurance benefits and lump-sum cash payments.

In an e-mail to Post-Dispatch employees, Post-Dispatch Publisher Kevin Mowbray wrote the offer will allow the newspaper to cut expenses while offering employees at least 50 years old, with 10 years of experience, a buyout package.

Employees who qualify were told more information will be available to them Friday.

"While these are challenging times, I still believe in the resilience of this industry and in particular, this paper. This is a great market. Our actions now will enable us to face 2008 and beyond in a much better position."

A spokeswoman for the Post-Dispatch, Tracy Rouch, said the buyout is only at the St. Louis publication, not at others owned by Lee Enterprises Inc. She said it's not yet known how much money will be saved through the buyouts.

Lee Enterprises Inc. said last week that profits fell 1 percent to $22.5 million, or 49 cents per share, in the third quarter, the result of a slow newspaper advertising market.

The results compared with year-ago earnings of $22.7 million, or 50 cents a share.

Davenport, Iowa-based Lee owns 51 daily newspapers and has a joint interest in five others, an online business and more than 300 weekly newspapers and specialty publications in 23 states


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