Alaska News

ADN slashes jobs, wages

All Employees
From: Patrick Doyle
Subject: Workforce and Wage Reductions
Date: Thursday, March 19, 2009

Last week, we told you that we were still developing our expense reduction plans and would finalize and communicate them to you as soon as possible.

Today, I want to share with you what those plans mean for the Anchorage Daily News. We are announcing plans to reduce our workforce by 47 positions. Although many of these job eliminations will occur through involuntary layoffs, there also will be opportunities for employees to voluntarily elect a severance package where 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.

Reductions will occur in all areas of the operation. Employees affected by this reduction are being notified and provided with information about a transition package. We appreciate all that they have done for Anchorage Daily News and will do everything we can to make their transition as smooth as possible.

In addition, we are implementing wage reductions for all employees whose compensation exceeds $25,000 annually. Every employee will receive a letter detailing the impact of the wage reduction on their pay and will have the opportunity to ask questions. These wage reductions take effect on April 13, 2009.

These are difficult decisions, especially when it means saying goodbye to so many of our friends and colleagues. But we must make these additional cuts to ensure the viability of our newspaper and to adjust to these new competitive and economic realities.

There have been many questions about work furloughs. We are not planning furloughs for the first half of the year. However, we may revisit that option later in the year if financial conditions do not improve. We think it's important you know it's a possibility, and details will be provided if and when a decision has been made.

Again, I want to apologize for all of the disruption that you have experienced over the last several weeks. This is a very difficult time for all of us, and it will continue to be difficult as we all adapt to a new way of doing business. We can only respectfully ask, as we have in the past, that you keep your focus and continue to work hard to help our newspaper succeed.


Please contact Human Resources if you have any questions about the severance program or wage reductions.Â

Thanks. Patrick Doyle

Here's the rest of the story we posted earlier:

At least two newsroom employees have been laid off already at Alaska's largest newspaper. Buyouts will be discussed with others. The news came as little surprise to ADN employees.

Sacramento-based McClatchy Co., the ADN's owner, is struggling with a mountain of debt and has reduced staffs at many of its papers across the country in recent weeks.

It's common to bash the hometown paper, and Alaskans are no different when it comes to their Anchorage Daily News. But criticism that the Daily News is too liberal or not doing a good job these days, and that's the reason for the cutbacks, is unfounded. (That's me saying this as a former employee.)

The reality is that the hemorrhaging is happening nationwide in the newspaper industry. Earlier this week, the Seattle P-I -- the oldest newspaper in the city -- shut down its presses, laid off more than 120 people, and went online only. The Rocky Mountain News in Denver has closed down, too.

Morris Communications, a Georgia-based company, is also fighting for its survival, cutting wages and benefits at many of its properties. In Alaska, Morris owns Alaska magazine, the Juneau Empire, the Alaska Journal of Commerce and KFQD (That's Dan Fagan's radio show: Side note: Fagan, when are you going to write about your own company's demise?)

Read the Anchorage Daily News' story for more about its layoffs.

"Staffing at the Daily News will drop by 45 people, or about  17 percent, through a combination of buyouts, layoffs and the elimination of vacant positions," according to the Daily News story, adding that cuts will hit all departments. "The paper will also impose pay cuts ranging from 2.5 percent for lower-paid employees to 10 percent for the highest paid."

Without newspapers' traditional reporting, what will we talk about? Will TV news fill the gap? Can we count on bloggers? I don't think either will save American journalism. I believe a new model will come about based on what newspapers have done so well for centuries -- reporting and writing. Those skills won't die.


Stay tuned to for more on this developing story.

Tony Hopfinger

Tony Hopfinger was a co-founder and editor of Alaska Dispatch and was editor of Alaska Dispatch News. He left the ADN in 2015.