To: Employees of The Clarion-Ledger | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

To: Employees of The Clarion-Ledger

To: Employees of The Clarion-Ledger

Dear employees,

As you may have read in our newspaper or web site earlier today, The Gannett Company has announced a reduction of approximately 1000 jobs or 3 percent of the company workforce over the next two weeks. To respond to your concerns, The Clarion-Ledger took this difficult step two weeks ago when we reduced our workforce by 20 people or 5 percent of the staff.

Our proactive decision to move ahead earlier this month was based on the significant economic downturn and how it had specifically affected our financial performance in Jackson. We are well into carrying out our plan and individual departments are being restructured to ensure critical needs of our business are being addressed.

In my attempt to be open with you, I must acknowledge, the future is still very much uncertain. The economy has not turned the corner, and our customers are still being cautious with their advertising spending. We will continue to evaluate ways we can be more efficient, such as our circulation delivery partnership with our sister paper, The Hattiesburg American, and other shared services.?
That makes it all the more important that we keep expenses in line with revenue. If advertising revenues continue to decline, further payroll reductions may be necessary. None of us wants to see that happen. Our advertising and circulation teams are working extremely hard on your behalf to grow our business despite many unpredictable and challenging obstacles in the financial market.

Another point I want to convey to you is that although our business is in transition as we continue to build our digital presence in cooperation with our print products, our reach to the Jackson and Mississippi marketplace has never been higher. The community looks to The Clarion-Ledger, ClarionLedger.com, our weekly newspapers and menu of niche products as their #1 source for information –both news and advertising. Our advertising position and market share continues to be strong and the market leader, but the issue is that the advertising dollars available are shrinking due to the difficult local and national economy.

As I have encouraged you in earlier employee town meetings, please support our advertisers when you are making purchasing decisions. The income we receive from them allows us to be a journalistic watchdog, strong local business, community partner, and many, many other roles we play in Metro Jackson and Mississippi.

I thank you for your professionalism and commitment to our customers. These difficult times will pass. Until they do, we must do the best job that we've ever done ensuring that our customers get the service they deserve and that we continue to grow our brand as Mississippi's leading information source.

If you have questions, please let me or your department director know. We will be happy to discuss your question with you.

Thank you.

Larry

[above is reprinted verbatim]

Previous Comments

ID
133160
Comment

Note that the Ledger is going to "build its digital presence" even as it shrinks its core competency—doing a decent newspaper. As we understand it, that means posting pictures of drunk people on a new Web site designed to rope in the kids. Reminds me of when they pulled the Weekend section out and put it in those white, ugly boxes to compete with us. (Which they don't do anymore.) But they think the drunk pictures are going to work. Even as they're firing people, they are paying volunteer staffers overtime, apparently, to go around taking said drunk pictures. It's remarkable that he is blaming the economy for their woes locally. It has nothing to do with being a PITIFUL NEWSPAPER and refusing to report information people need, right? So sad.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-08-18T12:26:44-06:00
ID
133161
Comment

It's also funny to us that Lounge List so clearly scares the hell out of the Ledger. I can't even imagine the low morale over there as they face large layoffs, yet the employees are told to go around taking drunk pictures because that's what might save their company and their jobs. They really ought to start with editing out the passives and giving up the e-mail interviews. Then take it upward from there. Talk about shuffling the deck chairs.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-08-18T12:36:23-06:00
ID
133164
Comment

[quote]The income we receive from them allows us to be a journalistic watchdog, strong local business, community partner, and many, many other roles we play in Metro Jackson and Mississippi.[/quote] Since when? Your best bet in Central MS is to have many sources for your news. By Far.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2008-08-18T12:50:00-06:00
ID
133168
Comment

He's playing some interesting word games. our print products, our reach to the Jackson and Mississippi marketplace has never been higher. He gets to that point, apparently, by including the push-circulation free papers that they throw into people's yards. There are copies of the Northeast Ledger rotting in driveways around Fondren right now. I guess that's part of the "reach." please support our advertisers when you are making purchasing decisions. The income we receive from them allows us to be a journalistic watchdog, strong local business, community partner, and many, many other roles we play in Metro Jackson and Mississippi. Isn't it a little late to start talking about being a "watchdog" and a "community partner" in Jackson when they've pretty much ceded those roles for years!?! I'm with Ironghost on that. At this point, Whitaker is not going to fool anyone, either on the staff or off, about what that paper has become in Jackson. My advice: Figure out how to do real reporting, and then do the drunk pictures. As it is now, it just looks desperate.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-08-18T13:22:16-06:00
ID
133169
Comment

Speaking of "niche products," the Mississippi Independent Publishers Alliance members (the JFP + other local publications) is now distributed in all of the major gas-station chains in the area: Mac's Gas, Fleetway and SprintMart, which all had gone with TDN. Please go support them, do business with them and thank them for supporting real local businesses. And thanks to all of you for helping MIPA take on Goliath. Cheers to the MIPA team!

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-08-18T13:23:28-06:00
ID
133184
Comment

The NPR program "On the Media" conducted an interview with C-L reporter Jerry Mitchell this weekend, and at the end of the interview, host Bob Garfield observed that Gannett stock has "tanked" and asked Mitchell "whether there's 5 years left in the Clarion-Ledger to pay for the kind of single-minded coverage (Mitchell) is contributing. Mitchell said that "they continue to support me, and I think I will be able to continue this for the next 5 years."

Author
JLY
Date
2008-08-18T16:51:47-06:00
ID
133187
Comment

Hm, yet, they seem to be hiring a copy editor/page designer. (http://www.journalismjobs.com/Job_Listing.cfm?JobID=826716) I thought they were laying off their recent hire.

Author
Minneapple
Date
2008-08-18T19:55:18-06:00
ID
133188
Comment

That is weird, Minneapple. Didn't they just lay off a copy editor who had been there for years who is in his 60s? And they have a job freeze? Why would they be advertising those jobs? Good eye.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-08-18T20:09:40-06:00
ID
133189
Comment

JLY, what is Mitchell going to continue doing that he's doing now, I wonder. And I don't mean to be snarky. He's just not doing a whole lot these days, it seems. And isn't Gannett's stock going up now that they are laying off people ... because it's all about the shareholders? This is why publicly traded newspapers are a really, really bad idea. The quality of the paper, and the readers' (and employees') needs are low priority behind profit margin and shareholder value. I think the newspaper industry is going through what it has to—with this corporate arrogance "tanking." Something better will replace it as communities such as ours realize how badly they are being played for high profit margins and bad news coverage. It worked for a while, but the bubble is bursting.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-08-18T20:13:07-06:00
ID
133192
Comment

As he himself observed in the interview, Mitchell's sources are literally dying off. It's possible that the C-L was willing to bankroll his investigations with some degree of hope that they might garner significant national recognition for the effort, but time is running out. Call me a cynic, but I think it's more likely that Mitchell, rather than launching newer projects for the C-L, has seen the writing on the wall and is working on a screenplay.

Author
JLY
Date
2008-08-18T21:00:06-06:00
ID
133215
Comment

In Rankin County I haven't heard anyone crying about the Rankin Ledger closing its office. They had some promising young reporters a while back, but they couldn't tolerate the environment.

Author
kudzuking
Date
2008-08-19T12:56:53-06:00

Thanks to all our new JFP VIPs!

COVID-19 has closed down the main sources of the JFP's revenue -- concerts, festivals, fundraisers, restaurants and bars. If everyone reading this article gives $5 or more, we should be able to continue publishing through the crisis. Please pay what you can to keep us reporting and publishing.

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