AH Belo cuts employee pay

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. …

Bold steps for helping newspapers (seriously)

Another good reason to read lots of newspapers: You end up coming across all sorts of crazy ways to save the newspaper business. One of the most interesting that we’ve found so far comes from The Dallas Morning News, where Lazard executive John Chachas lays out some bold steps that the U.S. government could take to help save the press. (No, we’re not talking about financial support or “bailouts”.)

As he says in his introduction:

By the end of this year, some of America’s biggest dailies may well be run by their lenders. There is little evidence that banks would serve us well as the chroniclers of the nation’s news.

That’s because ad revenue is diving, costs are fixed, debt is threatening to shut down publishers and the papers have not yet found a way to make more money. So what can the government do? Wake up, Chachas suggests:

Ex-AOL exec joins newspaper publisher AH Belo

Dallas Morning News and Providence Journal publisher AH Belo Corp is getting some online representation. David Morgan,  who worked at Time Warner’s AOL between September 2007 and February 2008, is joining the Dallas-based company’s board, the Morning News reported on Thursday.

Morgan was founder of Tacoda and Real Media. See Buzzmachine proprietor Jeff Jarvis’s short, complimentary writeup about Morgan here .

Also joining is John Puerner, former publisher of the Los Angeles Times, whose territory butts up against Belo’s Press-Enterprise daily newspaper in Riverside County, California.