McClatchy to cut 1,400 jobs nationwide, 120 at The Star

By DAVID HAYES

The McClatchy Co., owner of The Kansas City Star and the third largest newspaper publisher, said today the company will reduce its workforce by 1,400 positions nationwide.

The move — affecting about 10 percent of the company’s workforce — comes as part of a restructuring plan to “manage through today’s difficult advertising market,” the company said in a release.

A combination of voluntary and involuntary buyouts will save the company about $70 million a year, part of a plan to reduce overall expenses by nearly $100 million over the next four quarters, the company said.

The Star’s reductions include about 120 full-time equivalent positions. Reductions will occur in every division, Mark Zieman, The Star’s president and publisher, said this  morning in an e-mail to employees.

“We are confident in our ability to navigate to a stable and prosperous future as an integrated media company,” Zieman said in the e-mail.

“We remain — and will continue to be — our community’s pre-eminent and most trusted supplier of news and advertising information, in both print and online,” Zieman said.

The newspaper industry has been struggling for the past few years as advertisers have migrated to the Internet and readers have moved to the Web and other sources for news. Gary Pruitt, McClatchy’s chief executive, said in a release that the company is making a transition from a traditional newspaper company to a multimedia company.

“The effects of the current national economic downturn — particularly in real estate, auto and employment advertising — make it essential that we move faster now to realign our workforce and make our operations more efficient,” Pruitt said in the release.

“I’m sorry this requires the painful announcement we are making today, but we’re taking this action to help ensure a healthy future for our company.”

In the past, Pruitt said, McClatchy has relied on voluntary buyouts and attrition to cut staff. The strategy helped the company cut its workforce by 13 percent between the end of 2006 and April 2008, the company said.

“It’s important to recognize this move as part of a continuing, strategic vision for successful future operations, not solely a response to today’s adverse conditions,” Pruitt said.

The McClatchy Co. publishes 30 daily newspapers including The Miami Herald, The Sacramento Bee and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. It also publishes 50 non-daily newspapers and dozens of local Web sites.

The news came as McClatchy reported this morning that overall sales for May decreased 15.1 percent from the same month in 2007. Advertising revenues were down 16.6 percent compared to a year ago.

For the first five months of the year, total sales dropped 14.2 percent and advertising revenues declined 15.4 percent.

In early trading today, shares of McClatchy were down 1.8 percent, or 15 cents, trading at $8.

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