AH Belo cuts employee pay

April 2, 2009

AH Belo, publisher of The Dallas Morning News and Providence Journal, is climbing on board the newspaper pay cut train to save money as the print business flounders.

Usually when this happens, investors sell what little of the depleted, deflated stock they already own. Today, AH Belo is up 8.7 percent. We assume that is not because they see positives in the “streamlining” of the business. The whole market is up.

This, friends, is what they call bad news.

Excerpts from Chief Executive Robert Decherd’s memo to employees:

On Tuesday, the Board of Directors approved my recommendation to reduce my base salary by 20 percent and the base salaries of other Management Committee members by 15 percent, effective immediately. In addition, all full-time employees making more than $25,000 per year will have reductions in base salary as follows:

Base Salary % Reduction
$25,000 and under 0 %
$25,001 – $74,999 2.5 %
$75,000 – $102,499 5.0 %
$102,500 – $149,999 7.5 %
$150,000 – $225,000 10 %
Over $225,000 15 %

These changes will be effective starting in the payroll cycles on or near May 1. The annual savings represented by these reductions exceed $10 million. We will ask employees who are covered by collective bargaining agreements to voluntarily lower their salaries by the levels described above. …

Our hope is to restore most or all of these cuts for impacted employees at some time in the future, as business conditions permit. To cushion the impact of the wage cuts, all impacted employees will receive three additional personal days per calendar year, effective at the time of the salary reductions. …

These decisions are not taken lightly and all are made with a focus toward maintaining A. H. Belo’s ability to be the leading provider of local news, information and advertising in the markets it serves. The cost-reduction initiatives we have implemented have real consequences and everyone is affected in some way.

As conditions improve – which they inevitably will – we expect to look back at these steps as being painful but necessary for the long-term prosperity of our great Company.

(Photo: Reuters)

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