Denver Post publisher MediaNews Group is laying off 17 employees as part of an outsourcing strategy, according to the Denver Business Journal. The employees are part of MediaNews’ Prairie Mountain Publishing Co. division that publishes the Boulder Daily Camera and Longmont Times-Call. The 17 positions are mostly advertising design and production positions that apparently will be moved off-shore to India and the Philippines.
A slew of Colorado Newspapers – the Denver Post, the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Greeley Tribune and the Boulder Daily Camera among them – are accusing the political website ColoradoPols.com of “flagrant and persistent theft … of intellectual property.” Frankly, I was surprised that the Denver Post generates enough of its own content to make this complaint. If ColoradoPols was effectively reprinting content from the Post, I figured it would be the Associated Press that would have an issue.
… you might want to do it right away.
Of course, that is not exactly how Aldo Svaldi’s Denver Post article this morning described it. Before running across the word “bankruptcy” for the first time in the third paragraph, it was described as a “pact,” “deal,” “new ownership structure,” “restructuring plan” and “agreement.” Clearly there is no need to buy Svaldi a thesaurus for his birthday this year.
Of the bankruptcy agreement, Media News chairman and chief executive William Dean Singleton said, “It gives us one of the strongest balance sheets in the industry.” Sadly, he may be right.
If you are interested, the Denver Business Journal also covered the Post’s bankruptcy agreement.
Part of the fallout of Scripps’ decision to shutter the Rocky Mountain News is that MediaNews will take full ownership of several Colorado newspapers, including the Boulder Daily Camera, the Colorado Daily and the Broomfield Enterprise. Alicia Wallace and Ryan Huff at the Boulder Daily Camera have the details.
As expected, Denver Post publisher MediaNews Group has expanded its employee furlough program, adding media properties in Texas, New Mexico, Minnesota, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The program requires employees to take week-long unpaid leaves in an effort to reduce payroll costs. While the company has not yet required Denver Post employees to take furloughs, it is currently negotiating with the paper’s union representatives in an attempt to cut pay and benefits to the tune of $2 million. And you can expect the furloughs to be part of any deal that is reached.
Could a furlough program that MediaNews Group has instituted in California wind up sidelining some Denver Post reporters eventually? MediaNews is “requiring all nonunion employees who work at the company’s California newspapers to take one week of unpaid leave this quarter to help cut costs,” and a company spokesman says it is also considering requiring furloughs at its media properties outside California.
A day after Moody’s downgraded MediaNews Group, citing its “substantial”risk of default, CEO Dean Singleton today asked unions representing the Denver Post and the Denver Newspaper Agency to “reopen their labor contracts immediately” in an effort to cut costs by $20 million. Jeff Smith at the Rocky Mountain News reported that Singleton would seek concessions of $2 million from the Post and $18 million from newspaper agency.
And that wasn’t the only bad news for MediaNews Group today. The Wall Street Journal reported that the MediaNews Group-owned Detroit News has joined the Gannett-owned Detroit Free Press in considering cutting home delivery of the papers to three days per week. The remaining four days would be available only via newsstands.
Moody’s downgraded MediaNews Group today, saying the owner of the Denver Post “faces a heightened risk of near-term default under the financial tests of its recently amended senior secured credit agreement as well as the refinancing risk posed by the December 2009 maturity of its revolving credit facility.” The Denver Business Journal has the details.
MediaNews CEO Dean “Shut the F&%@ Up, We’re Doing Fine” Singleton disclosed that the media company has sold the Connecticut Post and seven weekly newspapers to Hearst in an effort to “manage its balance sheet.” Singleton dismissed the move as business as usual (“This is not our first rodeo”), and insiders are speculating whether this is the first of several deals that will bring Hearst and MediaNews much closer together.
The only remaining question is whether Singleton will make Aldo Svaldi write an article tomorrow about what a shrewd move it is.
UPDATE: Aldo Svaldi’s article is here. Interestingly, Singleton says the biggest threat to newspapers isn’t the Internet, but rather an “old-fashioned recession” that is hurting ad revenues.