UPDATED: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Cuts 50-60 Jobs

by Mark Hengel  on Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2009 7:08 am  

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has cut 50-60 people throughout its statewide operations, the newspaper said on Tuesday.

Those cuts including seven newsroom positions, Deputy Editor Frank Fellone confirmed to ArkansasBusiness.com late Monday. Other cuts come from other parts of the newspapers operations, according to the newspaper in an article on Tuesday.

(Click here to see the full article.)

Of the newsroom cuts, five will affect the Little Rock newsroom and two are in the paper's northwest Arkansas office.

"I deeply regret that we have cut seven newsroom positions," Fellone said.

The paper, owned by Wehco Media Inc. of Little Rock, has attempted to avoid making staff cuts. A hiring and wage freeze was implemented at the paper in August 2008 and management requested that employees reduce hours to conserve money.

"I would have to say that it is clear that the economic conditions are tough for us as they are for all businesses," Fellone said.

Fellone would not say who the newspaper laid off. General Manager Paul Smith could not be reached for comment.

Sources told ArkansasBusiness.com that editorial writer Jake Bleed was among those let go. Paul Greenberg, the newspaper's editorial page editor, could not be reached for comment, having taken the day off as part of the newspaper's cost-cutting plans.

In its Tuesday report, the newspaper said the cuts amount to about 3 to 5 percent of its total workforce and have come over the last two months as advertising revenue has continued to decline.

"Three-fourths of our revenue comes from ads," newspaper general manager Paul Smith was quoted as saying. He said the price the company charges for a newspaper "barely" pays the printing costs, much less the cost of delivering it to the door of the subscriber.

He said the company has not ruled out further reductions.

"We're in uncharted territory," he said of the economic situation.

Smith also said the sale of Alltel Corp. and the bankruptcy of Circuit City and Goody’s will cost the Democrat-Gazette about $1.2 million in 2009.

The Democrat-Gazette has about 250 in its newsroom, including more than 190 in Little Rock and about 60 in northwest Arkansas. It employs about 1,300 statewide.



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