A.H. Belo Chooses Layoffs -- 500 of Them - over Furloughs, Pay Cuts

By Fitzgerald, Mark | Editor & Publisher, January 30, 2009 | Go to article overview

A.H. Belo Chooses Layoffs -- 500 of Them - over Furloughs, Pay Cuts


Fitzgerald, Mark, Editor & Publisher


A.H. Belo Corp. will lay off approximately 500 employees at The Dallas Morning News and its three other dailies, CEO Robert Decherd told employees in a memo that said pay cuts and the newly popular industry practice of furloughs had been considered and rejected by management.

The staff reduction, amounting to nearly 14% of employees, is the second big round of job cuts in the past six months. Last summer, A.H. Belo reduced about 500 jobs nationwide with voluntary severance packages followed by layoffs.

"The revenue trends we continue to experience simply do not support or require the same number of people as we have previously employed," Decherd said. "This reduction in force will impact all of the operating companies and corporate, and will probably be in the range of 500 jobs. Specifics about the reduction in force plan will be communicated as soon as possible, but no later than mid-February."

Decherd's memo reveals that the pure-play newspaper company that was spun out from Belo's television business last year is paying some operating costs with its bank credit line -- which will be further pressured now that new severance costs are coming.

"All of you have read about approaches that peer newspaper companies have taken to meet these same challenges, including furloughs and across-the-board pay cuts," Decherd said. "The Management Committee believes that such actions are not best for A. H. Belo at this time, yet we recognize that all means of preserving cash need to be explored. I assure you that we are considering any and all opportunities to improve the company's revenues and preserve cash internally, and every idea is welcome. …

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