Red all over: More cuts reported at Express-News

The Current has been hearing rumors for two weeks now that the Express-News planned to reduce its staff again to deal with the economic slowdown, which has dramatically multiplied the effects of the ongoing decline in print revenue (scroll down at Daily reporters had mentioned it to story sources, and the suits were spotted at a Southtown restaurant last week hammering out details. Sadly, it appears those rumors were true. Details below in an email from Publisher Tom Stephenson (unverified as of yet, but from a reliable source). Other credible sources have added that 75 of the 135 staffers being cut are in the E-N newsroom -- a number we hope, on behalf of our daily colleagues, is wildly off -- and that their final work day is March 20. Including the paper's niche and neighborhood pubs, total editorial cuts are reportedly 25 percent of the total. More when we know it.

February 25, 2009

Dear Colleague,

There is some very important, albeit sobering news to share with you today. I have been working with other members of the senior leadership team at the Express-News to develop a new staffing and operating plan to take us through the recession and enable us to emerge as a thriving company once the economy recovers. Advertising revenues remain soft as our best customers cope with the recession. They are spending less on advertising as their own businesses contract.

Earlier this year we announced a wage freeze, eliminated a small number of positions and instituted a hiring freeze. Unfortunately, those efforts have not offset the continuing revenue shortfall. Today I am announcing plans to reduce operating expenses by 20% over the next two years. We hope this ends theincremental cost savings we have been imposing, and positions the company to operate without additional cuts. As part of this plan, we will eliminate approximately 135 jobs, or about 15% of our workforce. Additionally, there are about 30 open positions that will not be filled. We also are reducing weekday circulation, travel, delivery costs and sales solicitation costs.

We will combine our State and Metro press runs into a single edition and we will begin printing our Sunday comics and TV book on our presses. We plan to relocate all of our downtown employees into the Avenue E building. We will make some adjustments to our health and benefit packages, which will be shared with you as the details are finalized.

Almost every day in the Express-News and on, we write about businesses downsizing and reorganizing to cope with the economy. Unfortunately, we find ourselves in the same position. The time has come for the company to act decisively rather than incrementally. We will be smaller in size, but there will be no reduction in our mission or in our service to the community. We will continue to operate with the passion and drive that have made us a force in San Antonio and South Texas for more than a century and a half. Our readers and advertisers deserve no less.


Tom Stephenson


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