January 22, 2009

Size matters ... but smaller is JT's word of the day

Size matters, or so they tell us.

At the Journal Times, smaller is the word that nobody dares speak out loud.

We never get the news officially. While other Lee Enterprise papers announce staff cuts publicly, the Journal Times keeps mum. For example: the Mason City, IA, Globe-Gazette today announced that it has laid off nine full-time employees and will leave six open full- and part-time positions unfilled. The LaCrosse Tribune and other papers in its regional group announced the layoff of eight Wednesday. The Wisconsin State Journal and Capital Times in Madison announced Monday that it cut 12 positions, mostly from the two newsrooms. The Muscatine, IA, Journal announced it cut 3 1/2 positions last Thursday, 10% of its staff. The Casper Star-Tribune, Wyoming's largest newspaper, laid off 15 last Wednesday... you get the picture.

Still, as news often leaks into newspapers, it also has a way of leaking out, especially since Lee Enterprises' CEO Mary Junck (annual pay: $3,791,280) announced Monday that additional staffing cuts are coming, on top of the 10 % workforce reduction made during Lee's first quarter, which ended Dec. 30.

What we've heard whispered from the Journal Times is that eight employees were let go in the last week or so. School reporter John Dobberstein is one; we haven't seen his byline since Jan. 5. And Operations Manager Michael Rehberg, a longtime Lee corporate employee and former publisher who came here as Circulation Manager about eight years ago, is also gone from the "Bishop," as the little box with the newspaper's contact numbers on Page 2 is called.

Equally significant, Lee is engaged in a companywide newsprint-saving binge, a process not limited to Lee in the U.S. A number of Lee newspapers already have reduced their page width from 12 inches to 11 inches -- the Glens Falls, NY, Post-Star did it Tuesday -- and word is that all will do so as soon as possible. Yes, that will make the small print in comics even harder to read, and will produce a de facto rate increase for advertisers, who are charged by the column-inch. It doesn't necessarily mean there will be less news in the paper -- but it probably will.

Just a few years ago, most broadsheet U.S. newspapers had a 13 1/2-inch wide page, although the Wall Street Journal stood out with a 15-inch page. The WSJ slimmed down to 12 inches in 2007, but it just can't seem to keep up...


  1. If the J-T had reported the news vs become one big editorial page this would not be going on. Folks now can get information from so many places without having to put up with a slant to the news.

  2. Why have newspapers notoriously had 25% net profit margins while famously paying it's journalists low wages?

  3. StopthemadnessNOW1/22/2009 5:01 PM

    Pete, Dustin: Please set the record straight re: Anonymous comments. The profit margins are "pretax" and more like 30%. It IS true that those margins are obtained, in part, by being cheap with the help.

  4. I stand by my comment - people use the cases of perverse child sex crimes to pontificate in a "righteous anger" sort of way. One can hardly be challenged when someone says 'kill the pervert'.

    I have run across this 'kill them' attitude time and again when people discuss child sex crimes.

  5. Oops, wrong post.

  6. Newspaper owners became to accept 'high returns' as a financial right.

  7. How many JT staffers does it take to put out the daily paper? (Please note this question is not the same as how many JT staffers does it take to change a light bulb).

  8. Are we all chicken Shit Anonymous? Print your names.1/23/2009 7:12 AM

    I believe it is a free world and a market economy. If they want more $, they aren't forced to stay in any job.

    They chose the profession and they accepted the job offer.

    Also, just because other enterprises post their bad news, it isn't the JT's obligation to tell everyone everything. I bet you don't hear about 90% of layoffs from companies.

    The JT can report whatever they want. It is their newspaper and website, just like this website is Pete and Dustin's. They can print (and do) what ever they want; whether accurate or not.

    Enough said.

  9. You know, we are not chicken shits for not posting names, especially when an angry blogger like you is insulted. Quite frankly, it is just easier for many bloggers, especially those new to gmail, etc etc to click on anon.

  10. The newspaper industry has been the slowest to understand and adopt America just isnt reading it anymore. The deadheads that run these orgs. always pay themselves to much thats not news. Maybe for the first time in history, a jornalist who chose the professiona can now compassionately understand what has happened to american manufacturing the past decade. Its beyond wake up call time, Americans are fat and lazy and that includes on the job. Isnt that obvious yet?