If you thought the Times-Standard's victory in the battle of Eureka dailies meant a return to gluttonous days of plenty for the 154-year-old paper, think again. MediaNews, the Denver-based parent company of the T-S , today announced that all employees -- company-wide -- must take a one-week furlough sometime during February or March. That means an unpaid, involuntary five-day vacation for everyone from delivery van drivers to reporters, editors to publishers, even the bigwigs like President Jody Lodovic.
"It's a reaction to the state of our industry within the current economic environment," said T-S Publisher Dave Kuta. While it's not necessarily a sign that the T-S is itself unprofitable, there's not much comfort in being a healthy barnacle on a listing ship. According to Denver's Rocky Mountain News , MediaNews has been losing "roughly $4 million per quarter as the newspaper industry nationally continues a rapid deterioration." That tidbit is merely an aside in the story. The nut is an allegation from E.W. Scripps, another lumbering media conglomerate, that MediaNews violated an agreement by borrowing $13 million from a jointly owned operating agency to make payroll at The Denver Post . MediaNews vehemently denies the allegation, but still, the financial picture ain't pretty.
The effect these furloughs will have on the T-S remains to be seen. "We still need to produce a newspaper," Kuta said. "Obviously it will be difficult. It's like having several people go on vacation all at once." He said they'll schedule strategically and "cross traditional boundaries" to ensure they continue to produce a quality newspaper.
As for the fiscal impact on employees, Kuta said that it will indeed hurt -- him included. "Right now I have two house payments," he said. "It's tough on everyone." The company will re-evaluate its fiscal standing at the end of March. For now, like more and more companies in these bleak financial times, the T-S will have to figure out how to do the same job with fewer resources. "We'll find a way to do it," Kuta said.