Saying that "profitability has declined steadily since 2009", Cape Cod Times publisher Peter Meyer continued efforts begun last week when the newspaper announced a 50 percent price increase and a reduction in content by a massive staff lay-off yesterday.
The GateHouse-owned Cape Cod Media Group fired seven full-time and 10 part-time employees Friday. Included were 12 from the Times' newsroom. This is on top of The Times layoff in 2009 of nearly a third of it staff.
Former Times reporter Jack Coleman called it a "bloodbath".
There seems no escape for the newspaper industry beyond further cuts in services coupled with increased prices for services, sort of a "more for less" scenario.
In the memo to staff shown below, Publisher Meyers says the cuts were not ordered by the new owners, but this flies in the face of reality - every new owner must find a way to pay for its purchase, and in a dying industry there are no other ways to do so. This is especially true because The Times' new owners are presently engaged in almost a three-card Monty scheme to reorganize their enormous media holdings..
Times' owner files for bankruptcy
The new owners filed for bankruptcy last week to "reorganize". In a statement, GateHouse CEO Michael Reed called the bankruptcy filing "a strategic decision to facilitate this restructuring..."
Under the Gatehouse reorganization plan, the firm's secured creditors would get either shares of a new media firm, New Media Investment Group Inc., that would be created by combining the company's assets with a group of about 30 local newspapers that a major creditor has acquired from News Corp., the Cape Cod Times former owner, or cash equal to 40 percent of their claims.
Below is a copy of the CC Times memo to staff:
To: Cape Cod Media Group Colleagues
From: [Publisher] Peter Meyer
Re: Staff Reductions
Seventeen employees across Cape Cod Media Group were released today to better align company expense with current revenue levels. In all, seven full-time and 10 part-time colleagues departed.
Several departments were affected in an effort to spread the impact and preserve award-winning journalism, stellar customer service and the strength of our products across the Cape Cod Media Group. We appreciate the valuable contribution made by our departing colleagues and wish them well.
Our company remains profitable, but profitability has declined steadily since 2009. We’ve implemented a number of expense-savings measures along the way to avoid layoffs including a wage freeze, newsprint conservation efforts, consolidation of operations, and general expense savings. Nevertheless, revenue challenges continue as we shift from a print-centric focus to a multiplatform media company.
We’ve seen a great deal of success in efforts to grow our digital business – we offer a wide array of digital marketing services including Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Marketing, website design, social media services and multiple forms of Internet marketing; we also serve the most comprehensive local news and information available across multiple devices (tablet, mobile, desktop).
Our transition from a newspaper company to a multi-platform information provider is well underway, but like the rest of the industry we continue to search for a business model that will shift overall revenue into growth mode. Clearly, this race to transition our business is a marathon rather than a sprint. We will have setbacks and victories along the way, and we will persevere.
It is important to know that new ownership is not at fault for today’s actions. Any buyer would have taken similar action based on financial realities. This was a painful but necessary step to position the Cape Cod Media Group for future success.
We will support our departing friends, and we will look ahead to embrace the future. The Cape Cod Media Group is the most relied upon news and information source in the marketplace. We have 250 colleagues focused on serving readers and advertisers, far more than any other local media company. The quality of our products and services, both print and digital, are celebrated in the industry and community.
Thank you for your dedication to excellence – I greatly appreciate it and our community depends on it.
"This is far from the first instance of bloodletting at the CC Times. In 1997 about 1/3 of entire staff were shown the door, with remaining workers expected to pick up the slack. Print media have only themselves to blame for completely missing the digital boat. Things might have been different if they'd listened to staff who DID understand the sea change. But no. The "experts" in charge continue driving the business into the ground. If they had a clue how to proceed with digital revenue streams, they'd be ADDING staff, not firing. The first echelon who SHOULD be let go: Publishers!"