D-Day At Miami Herald

What New Times reported last week is now official: The Herald is cutting 17 percent of its workforce, or 250 positions, which is actually 2 percent more than we expected.

"These next few weeks will be some of the most difficult and emotional we have faced," Editor Anders Gyllenhaal wrote to staff in an email this morning. "We will do our best to work through these changes at the same time as we try to keep our focus on our work."

Some will be laid off, other will be offered buyouts. Buyouts were in fact extended this morning to numerous reporters, according to sources, which Gyllenhaal wrote will "first be made on a voluntary basis and then an involuntary basis."

"I feel betrayed," said one veteran writer. "We're going to have to see how this shakes out and this is one of those stages of grief ... betrayal. When management could have been doing their jobs when we were doing our jobs and figuring out how to make our newsroom leaner and meaner, they were sitting around fat and happy."

John Dorschner's tiny little story on the Herald website about the cuts is a bit hard to decipher, which is suprising since Dorschner is usually very thorough. Looks like he had little to work with other than an an email sent to staff this morning from Publisher David Landsberg, which was dictated to the Pulp this morning. Here's the brunt of it:


To all to all MH/MC employees: I am writing today to tell you that the Miami Herald Media Company is reducing its workforce by 250 FTEs, or about 17 percent of the total. The reduction includes the layoff of approximately 190 full-time and part-time FTEs and the elimination of other open positions.

This is a painful but necessary step. We're operating in a time of great change and challenge for our own operations, for the McClatchy company, and for the newspaper industry overall. Increased competition and a pronounced economic downturn have combined to reduce revenues dramatically and these cuts are part of the way we must respond. As you know, we have already been transitioning to new ways of doing business, and we are now accellerating that effort. We are confident in our ability to navigate to a stable and prosperous future as an integrated media company that remains our community's most trusted supplier of news and advertising information. Reductions will occur in every division of our company, and at every level of the organization. Although many of these job eliminations will occur through involuntary layoffs, there also will be opportunities for employees to voluntarily elect a severance package where reductions are occurring in workgroups of two or more employees. If enough employees do not take the voluntary option, then the workgroups will be reduced to least tenure. Employees affected by this reduction are being notified as quickly as possible and being provided with information about the severance program and their last day. They will be provided with a transition package that includes severance pay and benefits continuation.

Herald Editor Anders Gyllenhaal followed that up with an email this morning slugged "Important Newsroom Announcement." In it, he wrote:

... [T]his will mean a series of steps, including buyouts, reorganization of several departments, a leaner management, and an expansion of outsourcing.

These changes will be difficult and will have impact on much of what we do. In putting together plans that will be detailed in a series of meetings today, we have tried to preserve our strengths and spread the reductions across all departments and disciplines. We have looked at new ways of doing some things, and we'll revamp some departments. As a result, the newsroom's plans are a complex series of moves that take some time to explain.

The details will be outlined at staff meetings today at 11 a.m. in the training room on the sixth floor, 1 p.m. in the Pines office, and 4 p.m. again in the training room. Starting in the early afternoon we'll also hold sessions in departments in small groups to explain the buyouts, which will first be made on a voluntary basis and then an involuntary basis.

... These next few weeks will be some of the most difficult and emotional we have faced. We will do our best to work through these changes at the same time as we try to keep our focus on our work.

There is going to be confusion and uncertainty at points ...

The announcements this morning coincide with a McClatchy new release announcing that the company is cutting its national workforce by 10 percent after a 15 percent drop in revenues in May that included a 17 percent drop in sales.

So it's hurting all over. I'm getting more information even as I'm posting this, so there should be more soon.

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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman