Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Newhouse Backs Off Its No-Layoff Pledge

Advance Publications' Newhouse Newspapers, one of the only major newspaper chains to avoid non-union layoffs throughout the recent upheavals suffered by its industry, is planning to remove its long-standing "no-layoffs" pledge, writes Joe Strupp of Editor and Publisher today.

Publishers at the chain's 20 daily newspapers, which include The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J.; The Oregonian in Portland, the Staten Island (N.Y.) Advance and The Times-Picayune of New Orleans, broke the news to staffers Wednesday.

"We wanted to communicate to employees that this is coming," said
Steve Newhouse, chairman of AdvanceNet, the chain's online division, and a member of the Newhouse family, the company's longtime owners. "We have had a pledge not to lay off employees for economic conditions or advances in technology."

But Newhouse said recent industry problems have forced the company to rescind the pledge. He said staffers are being told today that the pledge will remain for six more months, and then layoffs could occur.

"It was not a pledge that applied to the kind of transitional moment in the newspaper industry that is basically struggling to survive," he said, noting it only applied to the company's daily newspapers.

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