Saturday, July 30, 2011

Will DMN layoffs happen before the iPhone 5 is released?

A recap of what we think we know: Plans are well along for layoffs. Likely to happen in the next month or so. Likely to focus more on editors than reporters.  Likely to force remaining editors and reporters to do more production using the capabilities of Newsgate. (In possible confirmation of that, Metro has just scheduled "refresher" Newsgate classes for reporters.)
The death of Quick was not part of the larger layoff plan but was its own specific demise.

Rumors have not carried to me about layoff numbers or how high into management the layoffs might go. Level of tension is high, but is that a clue about the size of cuts?

Current open positions are staying open or are being filled from inside. As with every summer, the interns are doing good work generating stories and papering over some of the gaps.

How is the company doing financially? The top managers took the conference call about second quarter financials on Thursday. None of the questions included anything about possible layoffs. Here are some highlights.

Barry Lucas - Gabelli & Company - Analyst
Can you tell us how many people are actually paying for one digital device, or is that possible to break out?
Jim Moroney - A. H. Belo Corporation - Executive Vice President
It is certainly possible to break out, but we said that we are just going to hold off on that number because the minute we put that number out it is just going to be all that we are going to talk about. I will tell you we continue to add digital-only in every single one of the channels through which we distribute, and we are encouraged by where we are today.
Robert Decherd - A. H. Belo Corporation - Chief Executive Officer
Barry, what we said about that previously still holds. We want to get into the first quarter of next year and see what a full year looks like. These are modest numbers. I don't want to give you the impression that there is some fantastic breakthrough that we are going to announce next spring, but as Jim said, they are meaningful in the sense that we know there's a market. It's a niche market but we want to see how it progresses, what the usage patterns are, how much time do people spend on these sites and be able to come out with something that's meaningful.

That does not sound like someone keeping a huge success hidden. Page views are down only 20 percent since the paywall went up, they said. Is most of the traffic therefore to parts of the site outside the paywall? That was not asked.

On the other hand:
We continue to anticipate full year 2011 adjusted EBIDTA in the range of $45 million to $50 million, which assumes no gains from real estate dispositions. As of June 30, the Company had approximately $50 million of cash and cash equivalents, had no borrowings outstanding at its bank credit facility, and remained in compliance with bank covenants. This strong cash position and debt free balance sheet enabled our Board of Directors to declare a quarterly cash dividend of $0.06 per share payable on September second, 2011 to shareholders of record at the close of business on August 12, 2011.
Based on that, if you are an employee and a stockholder,  you've hedged your bets. You may lose your job, but you'll get a dividend because the company has such a "strong cash position and debt free balance sheet."

If you have information to share, please send it to me at  Information is power. Maybe not much power, but better to know than to not.

(Those latest rumors about iPhone release? Early or mid-September. You're welcome.)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Quick cleanup and the 2nd quarter financials

I chose the wrong day to be away from the computer. Frontburner and Unfair Park and Mixmaster have had details about the end of Quick, along with some comments or explanation from Moroney.   I have only a small amount more to add. The basics: Quick is ended. Next issue will be its last. How many lost jobs? I'm told it's 9 which includes a pair of parttimers. I'm told that four fulltime jobs were from the remaining Quick newsroom. If anybody would like to confirm or fine-tune those numbers, please add a comment or send me an email.

I'm told the people who were fired did get some kind of severance package, but I don't know how much.

Was this part of the rumored layoffs? Moroney's told Unfair Park that this was something that was going to happen, on its own, because Quick was never able to make money. So are there other layoffs coming? If you can pull a clear answer from what Moroney has said, please send in a comment.

Today's other news was the release of second quarter financials. Read it here. It is not pleasant reading. Down and down and down. DMN circulation up a tiny amount. Does this mean jobs will be cut?

A note to those who lost jobs today: As with the last layoffs, I'm happy to offer this blog as a place to post any farewells you'd like to share. Add a comment or send me an email.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Getting out ahead of the wave -- does anybody know of jobs available?

After the last round of layoffs, I asked for alerts about jobs and other activities that would be useful to the suddenly jobless and posted what was sent to me. I am happy to try that starting now. No time like the present, as my auntie always said. Put it in comments or send me an email.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The return of Spartacus

Never wanted to come back here but I left the blog active. Looks like there's need again.

Rumors of another round of layoffs started seriously circulating several weeks ago. I do not have anything like hard evidence but there is a lot of smoke. Here is what I've heard so far.

As some of us know, there have been isolated layoffs in non-newsroom positions in recent weeks. The rumors say that the newsroom is also going to face cuts. Editors may be more in danger than reporters. And production editors may be more in danger.

That is because Newsgate lets line editors do much more production than had been possible under the old CCI. It is possible that management believes that fewer editors are needed to put out the paper.

This does not mean that other positions are safe.

It is possible that none of this is true. This will be a place where people who know better and want to share will be able to let the rest of us know.

One other consistent rumor is that this layoff will not the same as the last ones. Instead of an announced date where the cuts will happen, if the rumors are right, these will happen when they happen. That would mean no warning and no way to know if they're over.

What kind of severance package would be involved?

Rules for the resurrected DMNcuts blog are the same as the last time. You can comment, and comment anonymously. But do not name anybody other than yourself. Personal insults will not be tolerated. If you want to send information to me directly, the email address is dmncuts(at)

(Erm. Update: Comments will be welcome as soon as I can figure out why I can't reactivate the comments. Meanwhile, the email address works.)

(Another update: With a little help from my friends, comments are now enabled.)