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...