That's the word coming down from Copley CEO Gene Bell, who tells employees that interested buyers in the San Diego Union-Tribune aren't exactly storming into his office. Bell says that his folks will keep working to find a buyer, but that in the meantime "our primary effort must be to keep our business viable in the face of challenging conditions.” You know what that means.
We must accept this fact: Regardless of who owns it, ours will be a smaller business in the future than it has been in the past. We must make even more dramatic changes in our cost structure that, unfortunately, must soon include a reduction in force. We are working through the details of staff reductions thoughtfully with a focus on protecting the quality of the products our readers and advertising customers expect.
Some changes are being made immediately, including a freeze on merit raises, suspension of 401(k) matching funds, and higher employee payouts for health care (still only 20 percent of the premium, which is positively benevolent compared with some of the piggish owners I used to work for). By the way, Bell notes that the U-T has lost 40 percent of its advertising revenue in just the last two years.