Modesto Bee offers buyouts to 100-plus employees

April 14, 2008 

The Modesto Bee offered voluntary buyouts Monday to more than 100 employees, citing fundamental changes in the news industry.

"We are managing through a challenging business environment and changing business model," President and Publisher Margaret Randazzo said.

About one-quarter of The Bee's 455 employees were offered buyout packages. Not all who apply will be approved, Randazzo said, and only a limited number of buyouts will be accepted from each division.

Randazzo said the buyouts were offered to employees in every division, except for ad sales representatives and reporters. The buyout packages include up to 26 weeks of pay depending on tenure, and medical coverage.

The Bee, owned by Sacramento-based McClatchy Co., does not have a set number of buyouts it will accept, she said. But, she added, "We anticipate that the percentage of our work force approved will be in the low single digits."

Mark Vasché, editor and senior vice president of The Bee, said the buyouts will affect a "very small" number of the newsroom's 90-plus employees and thus should have a minimal impact on readers.

"Our core mission is public service journalism," he said. "That remains our top priority."

Vasché said the buyouts, offered to managers and nonmanagers alike, allow The Bee to respond to cyclical economic challenges as it develops into a multimedia news and information provider.

The buyouts come as The Bee focuses on its niche publications and online products, Randazzo said. "We must support these efforts by looking for ways to operate more efficiently."

U.S. newspapers are struggling with slumping circulation and declining ad revenue as business continues to migrate online.

To comment, click on the link with this story at www.modbee.com. Bee staff writer Christina Salerno can be reached at csalerno@modbee.com or 238-4574.

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