The Charlotte Area Association of Black Journalists (CAABJ) is an affiliate chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), a nonprofit organization focused on establishing strong ties among African-Americans working in the media and expanding and balancing the media's coverage of the African-American community and experience.

June 17, 2008

The Charlotte Observer Announces More Layoffs

The Charlotte Observer announced yesterday that it will be reducing its workforce by 123 positions. We've learned that some current and past CAABJ members are being affected by these layoffs.

Below is a letter sent from the Observer's publisher to employees. It provides great insight into the types of financial challenges many news organizations are facing.

To All Observer Colleagues,

I am writing today to tell you that The Charlotte Observer is reducing its workforce by 123 positions, or about 11.1% of the total.

This is a painful but necessary step. We're operating in a time of great change and challenge for our operations, for The McClatchy Company and for the newspaper industry overall. Increased competition and a pronounced economic downturn have combined to reduce revenues dramatically, and these cuts are part of the way we must respond. As you know. We have already been transitioning to new ways of doing business, and we are now accelerating that effort. We are confident in our ability to navigate to a stable and prosperous future as an integrated media company serving as our community's most trusted supplier of news and advertising information.

Reductions will occur in Operations, Advertising, Finance, News, Circulation, Information Technology, Administration, Human Resources and Marketing. Although many of these job eliminations will occur through involuntary layoffs, there also will be opportunities for employees to voluntarily elect a severance package were reductions are occurring in work groups of two or more employees. If enough employees do not take the voluntary option, then the work groups will be reduced according to least tenure. Employees affected by this reduction are being notified as quickly as possible and being provided with information about the severance program and their last day. They will be provided with a transition package that includes a severance pay allowance and benefits continuation. We also will provide outplacement services.

As a news company, we have often reported on such transitions in other industries. Now we face the painful reality of severing employment ties with valued friends and colleagues, many of whom have served the company well for many years. We are sorry to do so, and will do everything possible to make their transition as smooth as possible.

The Charlotte Observer is making other changes in its business model and operations, as well. We have found regional efficiencies with other McClatchy newspapers in the Carolinas, such as working with the Raleigh News and Observer in sharing newsroom resources, consolidation of magazine production work for several of the McClatchy newspapers and a change in newspaper web width from 48 inches to 47 inches. We will continue to look for other operating efficiencies as we respond to our changing business model.

Other workforce reductions were also announced today throughout McClatchy. A press release detailing those actions -- amounting to about 1,400 jobs, or 10% of the company's workforce -- is available on . As CEO Gary Pruitt says there, "McClatchy is committed to remaining a healthy, profitable company positioned not only to meet current challenges, but to take full advantage of opportunities for growth as we restructure to support our mission of delivering high quality news and

This is also a difficult and disorienting time for those of us who remain on the job. Your continued effort and dedication are the foundation of our faith in the future, and we know from experience what a talented and productive group you are. The public service mission that has always animated us remains unchanged, but we will need to make many other changes as we adapt to today's far more competitive media landscape. We will be working diligently alongside you to ensure that we do so.

June 13, 2008

Today Is the Deadline to Pre-register for UNITY Conference

This is just a reminder for NABJ members (members of the national chapter) that today, June 13, is the deadline to pre-register for UNITY '08 in Chicago, July 23-27. Pre-registration saves you as much as $200 and proceeds go to NABJ.

Click here to register.