Layoffs at Suburban Journals; Publication Making Announcement Today

Categories: Media
journals down.jpg
Suburban Journals take another hit.
Updated 2:20 p.m: The Suburban Journals announced this afternoon that it is moving the bulk of its content online and drastically reducing its print coverage. The move also will eliminate 20 positions, according to a press release attached below.

Original story follows...

A recently terminated employee at the Suburban Journals tells us this morning that some 23 workers were fired from the publication after the close of business yesterday.

The employee, who doesn't want his name mentioned for fear the company could retaliate by withholding his severance pay, says he got a call around 8 p.m. yesterday from the publisher, Dave Bundy, and a representative from human resources.

"They told me that yesterday was my last day of work and that I'd get one week of severance pay for each year of employment," says the source, who worked for the publication for about a decade. "There was a weird feeling in the office all last week that something was imminent. Then, yesterday, management announced that all employees were to meet today at 9 a.m. to discuss a new direction for the Journals and Lee Enterprises."

The freshly fired employee says he believes those sacked yesterday included news and sports reporters, ad reps and graphic designers.

Bundy declined to comment to Daily RFT this morning. His assistant did return a call, however, telling us that an announcement would be emailed out later today and that no one would comment until then.

The Suburban Journals  was acquired by Lee Enterprises when the Iowa-based publisher purchased the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 2005. Since then, the Journals have gone from free papers delivered each week to lawns across the metro area to a paid, subscription paper.

A media source tells Daily RFT that the Journals -- with its multiple zone editions for North County, South County, etc. -- had a circulation of 1.5 million when Lee acquired the company. Today that circulation is around 30,000 and the publication has zone editions just for St. Charles and Illinois counties. (Daily RFT was unable to confirm those figures with the Journals. We also have a call out to Lee Enterprises for confirmation.)

Since 2005 the Journals has had several rounds of layoffs, including the firing of a reporter who took a bullet while working for the publication. Lee's stock has plummeted since its acquisition of Pulizer Inc. (the former owner of the Suburban Journals and the Post-Dispatch). Today the company's stock risks being de-listed from the New York Stock Exchange because its value is so low. It currently trades at 77 cents -- a far cry from the $45 per share trading price when the paper announced its intent to acquire Pulitzer Inc. in January 2005.

The company also has $1 billion in debt that's supposed to be paid by April. Last week Lee began offering buyouts to newsroom employees at the Post-Dispatch in attempt to cut costs at that publication.
Journals Aug 24
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10 comments
Uncle Fester
Uncle Fester

Kitty:When did the Democratic National Committee become the Democrat National Committee? Or are you just following the Tea Party stylebook?

Amy_in_StL
Amy_in_StL

In the 90's I worked for a company that did business for Lee Enterprises and they were my account. They were so poorly run that its not surprising that they ran the Pulitzer company into the ground. After all, what good ever came out of Iowa?

Mike N.
Mike N.

As long as they don't cut their extensive coverage of old people complaining about "kids today".

GP
GP

I feel bad for anyone getting let go today.  The job market sucks but management at the Post Dispatch has done a horrible job over the last 5 years.

KITTY
KITTY

Fast Forward: November, 11, 2019. The RFT announced today it is laying off the forty staffers  who worked  exclusively, round the clock,  digging up dirt on former Senator Peter Kinder. RFT publisher and major stockholder, Chad Garrison, praised the forty staffers for their diligent, but failing efforts to topple Kinder from power. The good news is that all the staffers have returned to their previous jobs at the Democrat National Committee and will now work tirelessly to smear President Ron Paul who is nearing the end of his second term.

Mahatma2
Mahatma2

Well did I get screwed! I only received a one week severance pay when I was "reorganized". RIP Journals. Those of you getting let go today, remember you can negotiate for your severence package. Punish these MF'ers.

Eric Vineyard
Eric Vineyard

Lee has done a horrible job with a once great company.  How about an over-leveraged buyout for starters.

ColinSTL
ColinSTL

There's a couple of things you can call what you've been writing about Chad.  Stalking and harassment.

Chad Garrison
Chad Garrison

Kudos on the creativity, KITTY. You're still totally delusional but at least this comment brings a smile to the face!

KITTY
KITTY

Being delusional in today's world is not necessarily a bad thing. I will continuously try to bring smiles to you - peppered of course with some barbs!

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