Reader sues newspaper over layoffs

Here’s a hot one we found on the Romenesko journalism business blog: A reader is suing The News & Observer, McClatchy’s paper in Raleigh, North Carolina, for cutting staff and the size of the paper.

Keith Hempstead, a Durham lawyer, filed the suit last month in Wake Superior Court. He says he renewed his subscription in May just before the paper announced on June 16 the layoffs of 70 staff members and cuts in news pages. The paper, he says, is now not worth what he signed up for and therefore the cuts breached the paper’s contract with him.

Hempstead — a former reporter at the Fayetteville Observer — told Friedman that he likes the paper, but hates all the staff cuts that he says hurts their quality and is antithetical to the way the newspaper business ought to be run. He is seeking unspecified damages and attorneys’ fees, but added that he’s in it for the love, not the money.

N&O Executive Editor John Drescher has quite the witty riposte:

“We’ve had some really good papers recently, and they’re worth more than the 36 cents a day that Mr. Hempstead is paying us,” Drescher said.”In fact, he owes me money,” Drescher continued. “So when he gets a lawyer, he can work with my lawyer and figure out how much he’s going to pay me for the excellent coverage he’s been getting recently.”

It may be nothing more than a way to raise awareness, but if Hempstead wins, he may end up killing the paper.

Yachts, parties, lions – it must be Cannes

1cannes.jpgIt’s one of the big weeks for advertising (well, in terms of parties and sunshine), so we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to check in on Cannes. More than 12,000 advertising types have gathered in the South of France to toast the industry — and perhaps even collect an award.

This is an interesting year for Cannes, where a lot of the chatter at parties and meetings will likely be about either the recession or the rise of online advertising, Reuters notes.

The festival, in its 55th year, awards excellence with the so-called Lions trophies and hosts seminars and workshops. In a sign of how crucial the Internet has become to advertising, the Film Lions awards now includes films for Internet and mobiles.

McClatchy CEO knows what we all want

You can say one thing for Gary Pruitt , McClatchy’s CEO and perhaps the most ardent defender of the newspaper business — he knows what we all want.

Here’s his comment from the analyst call he did today to discuss McClatchy’s first-quarter earnings :

We want to make sure we maintain our ability to generate revenue.

Who could ask for anything more?

Pruitt also showed off his lighter side in an exchange with Goldman Sachs’s Peter Appert. When the analyst said he was going to ask an unfair question, Pruitt responded, “That’s because I’m going to give you an unfair answer.”