Thursday, November 13, 2008

Buyouts Hit The Ann Arbor News

People working at The Ann Arbor News are facing some life-changing decisions today: This morning, management at The News and all seven other newspapers owned by the Newhouse family in Michigan announced a massive round of buyouts and plans to consolidate some operations in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo.

Paperwork for the buyout won’t be given to employees until Friday, according to several sources. But in broad strokes, they were told that most employees in the newsroom will be offered buyouts, which will likely include two weeks of pay for every year of service and some kind of health care coverage. Some of the people eligible for the buyout need only have a minimum five years of service. It’s unclear if that will apply to all buyout offers. People who don’t take the offer risk being reassigned to another paper.

Copy editors, page designers and graphic artists – essentially, the production staff – are being told that if they don’t accept a buyout, they’ll have to work from the Grand Rapids Press office. The Press is the largest of the Newhouse papers in Michigan. Advertorial products will be centralized at the Kalamazoo Gazette. Other papers in the group are the Jackson Citizen Patriot, Flint Journal, Bay City Times, Muskegon Chronicle and Saginaw News. The Newhouse holdings also include Michigan Live, which operates an online presence for all the papers, and the Michigan Business Review weekly publications.

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