Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Detroit papers to cut 150; CEO Hunke warns climate 'continues to worsen rapidly'

In one of Gannett's biggest buyout offers, the corporate parent of Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News today called for 150 employees to voluntarily give up their jobs by July 18 -- with layoffs threatened if that target isn't met. In a starkly worded memo, CEO and Publisher Dave Hunke told employees: "The environment in which newspapers operate continues to worsen rapidly.'' (Full text in link)

Hunke said buyouts were being offered to active, benefit-eligible, non-union employees who are 45 and up with at least 10 years' service as of July 31, 2008. The same offer was extended to eligible employees at the Detroit Media Partnership; in addition to the Freep, it publishes the rival News, plus handles accounting and other business functions for the papers under a joint operating agreement.

The 150 target is about 14% of the 1,044 eligible employees, a Gannett Blog reader tells me. Overall, the Freep, News and the agency employ somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,000.

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