OC Weekly Not Alone; Village Voice Media Cuts Widespread
As editor Ted B. Kissell's "A Bad Week at the Weekly" post about layoffs at OC Weekly continued (and is continuing) to generate comments, newsroom staffers received a memo about the matter this week from our Village Voice Media overlords.
Now, before I reveal what was in the memo, let me iterate and now reiterate that I was directed it was okay to divulge this information, that other VVM papers have already posted the memo without fear of repercussions and that, man, I really need this job right now, okay?
With that bit of courageousness out of the way, we can now proceed to the memo signed by VVM chairman and CEO Jim Larkin and executive editor Mike Lacey--or as we like to call them around here, God and other God. And, my, what benevolent gods they are. Handsome, too. Did I mention I really need this job?
The scoop: VVM has taken a bitch-slapping from the George W. Bush economy of the past eight years. Expenses have been trimmed with gusto since December 2007. But times are still so tough that layoffs have been instituted chain-wide; all staff openings are on hold; matches to employee 401-K plans are suspended; all editors and publishers are seeing 10 percent reductions in their paychecks; and, all senior managers and officers are taking 15 percent salary cuts.
What about God and other God? Larkin and Lacey are taking the 15 percent salary hit, too.
They express hope the measures will be the last steps that must be taken until the business improves. They say they still believe in the future of local media. They point to growth in VVM's digital businesses. "We have navigated tough times before and although this seems the roughest stretch we've ever seen, we are confident that the content Village Voice Media operations produce and market daily will carry the day in whatever format the future might serve, print or digital."
The full memo follows...
December 31, 2008
To all Village Voice staffers:
It's no secret that the chickens have come home to roost from the George Bush economy of the past eight years. We have all felt the downturn at Village Voice Media operations and, as you know, have been trimming expenses since December of 2007
Unfortunately, this year we have found it necessary to make staff reductions and have placed all staff openings on hold.
We are also going to take these additional measures effective January 1, 2009:
1) All VVM senior managers and officers, including Larkin and Lacey, are taking 15% pay reductions.
2) VVM Publishers and Editors are taking 10% pay reductions until our revenues begin to grow again.
3) We will suspend the Village Voice Media match into our 401-K plan. The plan will still remain open and we urge you to take advantage of the tax deferred personal savings advantages.
We hope that these measures will be the last steps we have to take until our business improves, however will continue to be watchful as 2009 progresses.
We believe in our local publishing and local digital businesses. It is our conclusion that the downturn in weekly publishing is largely cyclical and that as daily newspapers continue their decline, we will have numerous publishing opportunities in the markets we serve.
Many of you know that Village Voice Media digital businesses are growing and expanding quickly. As this current economic nightmare ends, Village Voice Media will be well positioned for the future in both digital and print.
We have navigated tough times before and although this seems the roughest stretch we've ever seen, we are confident that the content Village Voice Media operations produce and market daily will carry the day in whatever format the future might serve, print or digital.
We appreciate the effort each of you make to insure our success every day. Should you have any comments or questions please feel free to contact your publisher or either of us below.