The Bee, McClatchy eliminate more jobs

The McClatchy Co. announced another round of job cuts today, including 12 layoffs at The Modesto Bee.

Sacramento-based McClatchy said it was cutting its work force by an additional 10 percent, or 1,150 full-time positions, as part of an effort to cut expenses by $100 million a year.

The Modesto layoffs announced Tuesday involve personnel from advertising, circulation, news and operations. Combined with the earlier voluntary buyouts of 23 employees, The Modesto Bee's work force has been trimmed by about 9 percent.

In other staff reductions, 11 employees took buyouts in April. Then 15 employees were laid off from the newspaper's advertising, circulation and operations divisions in June.

These actions were followed in July by an announcement that The Bee would shift the printing of the paper to Sacramento. That change cost 33 full-time employees and 127 part-time employees their jobs.

Reporters, editors, advertising staff and others will continue working in Modesto, but the paper will be printed on presses at The Sacramento Bee and trucked to Modesto for distribution starting Sept. 29.

"As you know, we have all been transitioning to new ways of doing business, and we are accelerating that effort," said Margaret Randazzo, The Bee's president and publisher, in a statement to employees Tuesday.

"We are confident in our ability to navigate to a stable and prosperous future as an integrated media company serving as our community's most trusted supplier of news and advertising information," she said.

As part of the restructuring, The Modesto Bee will take on finance and human resources duties for its sister paper, The Merced Sun-Star. The consolidation of these divisions follows a similar move involving circulation departments.

Other newspapers throughout McClatchy also announced layoffs.

Tuesday's announcements reflect the company's inability to halt a steep slide in profits and revenue. The company said Tuesday that its August revenue fell 15.7 percent from a year earlier, to $142.8 million. Advertising sales were down 17.8 percent.

With print revenue still dropping, the company said it had to keep cutting costs. Coupled with the June layoffs, a companywide wage freeze and other moves, McClatchy expects to save about $200 million a year in operating expenses, said Treasurer Elaine Lintecum.

McClatchy also announced Tuesday that it would cut the shareholding dividend in half, to 9 cents a share. That will save the company an additional $7.4 million or so per quarter. That translates into annual savings of $29.6 million.

The move wasn't a surprise. Gary Pruitt, chairman and chief executive, signaled in July that the company was going to re-evaluate its dividend policies.

McClatchy never had reduced its dividend in its 20 years as a public company.