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Posts published in “Day: August 11, 2007”

Newsroom scaledowns

Via Oregon Media Insiders, an announcement of significant scaledown at the Oregonian: Up to 32 veteran employees may take early retirement, in the newsroom of 405. Publisher Fred Stickel:

"The retirement offer is voluntary and is available to 32 full-time employees with at least 20 years with the company. Several in the group have worked for The Oregonian more than 40 years. The offer includes a year's salary, company-paid health insurance until age 65 for the employee and spouse and additional benefits."

That may be the most painless way to trim payroll, but Stickel's other comment about it - ""I wish I did not think this action were necessary," while concluding that it is - may be most pertinent.

We might mention here as well the recent scaleback, similar in proportion, at the Spokane Spokesman-Review.

Editor Steve Smith posted the newsroom memo on budget decisionmaking on August 3, in part (we gather) to spike rumors which had been building. A number of cuts were made in alternative to salaries: Sections, news hole, sundry expenses. An advertising decision the journalists won't like: "The most significant advertising change will be controversial in the newsroom. As you may already have heard, we will be allowing advertising to sell strip ads on selected section fronts. (Details to come.) There will be no strip ads at this time on Page 1 or the Northwest cover. But I won't say that restriction is forever."

No layoffs, apparently, at least for now, but Smith also noted this: "Let me make this clear once again so there is no confusion: Our staff will be smaller this time next year. My guess is we'll be down anywhere from 8 to 12 positions. My goal is to achieve this reduction through attrition, retirements (possibly some early retirements) and avoid involuntary layoffs. I can't promise that won't happen. But you know I'll move heaven and earth to avoid it."

Maybe the most striking thing in Smith's post was this from his introduction to it: "The SR is not losing money. The SR is not being sold. The SR actually is growing circulation. The local economy is strong and our immediate situation is stronger than that of most newspapers." All of which is true . . . which makes the big-picture view for newspapers less well situated more rather than less scary.

Clog, the blog

I-5 jam

Traffic this morning on I-5/Washington Dept Transportation

Okay, this probably makes sense: A blog - albeit media blog, from the Seattle Times - devoted to the construction-generated traffic slowdowns on I-5 at Seattle. (Oop - we just wrote that name as "Settle," which some may say would be appropriate.)

But how necessary will it be?

People around Seattle have been dreading this, the construction-required lane closures and shutdowns projected to make already-bad traffic much worse. There's been no lack of warning and recommended alternative routes; as far south as Portland, the Oregonian ran a fairly detailed piece on the situation. (Which, to be sure, lasts just 19 days.)

Friday, the work began, people started holding their breath - and then exhaled. Early reports - weekend reports, true, but still - seem to be that so far, it isn't that bad. At least, the traffic cams so far seem to say so . . .