Dallas Morning News salary cuts latest in string of bad news for Belo holdings

In a story posted to the Dallas Morning News website, they’re parent company A.H. Belo Corp announced that they are cutting salaries and suspending their retirement supplement to pension plan participants next year. Belo also owns The Providence Journal in Rhode Island; The Press-Enterprise of Riverside, Calif.; and the Denton Record-Chronicle.

Here’s more from the Dallas Morning News story about itself:

  • The latest initiatives come amid other cost-cutting efforts, including employee layoffs, as the Dallas-based newspaper company faces “one of the most trying advertising environments our industry has ever encountered,” said Robert W. Decherd, A. H. Belo’s chairman, president and chief executive.
  • “These decisions are not taken lightly and all are made with a focus toward maintaining A. H. Belo’s ability to be the leading provider of local news, information and advertising in the markets it serves,” Decherd said in a letter to employees.  Decherd will take a 20 percent base salary reduction.

  • Other salary reductions will be made on a sliding scale, ranging from 15 percent for people making more than $225,000 to 2.5 percent for people with salaries between $25,001 and $74,999. The cuts will not affect people making $25,000 or less.  The salary reductions, which will begin on or near May 1, will save the company more than $10 million a year, Decherd said.

Things have been tense around the Morning News for the last couple of weeks as employees knew something was coming, just not what or when.  As predicted here and elsewhere, 2009 will prove to be the most challenging year for journalism -particularly newspapers- in history.  There are black newspapers and magazines that are literally on the brink of shutting down any day.

On Sunday, I will have an Opinion piece in The Dallas Morning News where I discuss the current media climate and some trends to watch for over the next few years.  It will also focus on how traditional journalists and citizen journalists will rely on one another to navigate through these challenging times.

I have a number of friends at the Morning News, and hate to see them constantly looking over their shoulders and wondering what will happen next with their jobs.   As someone who has been affected by the economy myself, I can say it’s not easy, but what some may think is an ending is often just the beginning.

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