More pain at Register *

The boss announces firings in the Orange County Register's "content center" and asks people not to compile lists of the departing. Memo below. Question: They have a hockey rink?


To Newsroom Associates
08/02/2007 11:22 AM

Subject Expense reductions and layoffs


Most of you heard during town halls last week that revenue problems continue to plague our company and our industry. We learned, for example, that revenue was 14 percent behind last year and profit was 38 percent behind. And last year’s financial results were behind the year before.

You also heard that one necessary solution was to cut expenses, including the elimination of positions, people and other non-payroll costs.

None of this is easy. But the truth is, as we see revenue continue to fall, especially in print, our company needs to take strong action to regain some balance.

So today we began a series of actions in the content center that include layoffs. Unlike the voluntary severance we went through last year, people this time are being asked to leave.

The deputy editors and I have made every effort to minimize the effect on people. We are cutting space, eliminating open positions, reducing freelance, dropping some wire services and saving money any way we can. Still, some people will need to leave.

The process is difficult and painful – especially for those most directly involved. They have done nothing wrong; they are good people. We will miss them.

I ask that you be respectful of the individuals involved. The compiling of lists, the emailing of names or idle speculation and gossiping will not be helpful to them or those of us who need to continue to build and grow our future with fewer people.

Our plan is for everyone to be notified and most of those affected to be gone by next Thursday. We will hold a session in the hockey rink 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 9 to attempt to answer your questions.

The publisher and executive team have requested that we not talk about specific numbers of people involved here or throughout the company or the total expense reduction. You’ll recall from the town hall meetings that every division within Freedom is being asked to cut costs.

Our entire industry is in a state of transition. We are seeing fundamental shifts in the way people acquire and use news and information. We have a lot going for us in Orange County. We have a strong economy and a vibrant community. We have good customer relationships, smart people and one of the best community news gathering organizations in the country. Local news and information continue to be our strength and a powerful competitive advantage.

If we can focus on the light at the other side of this small tunnel rather than the darkness, we will prosper. We have some good plans in the works to deal with a slightly smaller staff and prepare ourselves for a new way of thinking and working, as well as the creation of new products. We have already seen substantial results from our efforts on the Web.

Please be helpful and kind to those who are leaving and to one another as we work through the changes in the way we work. And thank you for all of what you do every day.


* Update from a Register hand: Hockey rink is "a stupid nickname for the [newsroom] meeting area that's surrounded by clear panels that look like the barriers in hockey."

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