Paper planning further reduction

August 12, 2008 

Battered by continuing declines in revenue, the Lexington Herald-Leader offered another voluntary buyout program on Monday to reduce its full-time work force.

“The economy continues to worsen, and we must make the painful choice to reduce expenses further,” Publisher Timothy M. Kelly said in a memo to employees.

Kelly said it is too early to set a target for the number of employee departures or to say whether layoffs will follow if a certain number do not leave voluntarily.

“We may limit the number of voluntary applications we accept given business needs or to ensure that no one area of the operation is unfairly impacted,” he said in the memo.

“We will evaluate the number of employees leaving under the voluntary program; how work will be streamlined, reallocated and consolidated; and what additional expense reductions may still be necessary. Then we will determine if additional staff reductions must be made through an involuntary severance program.”

Those accepting the buyout will receive the same severance package, including pay and health benefits, offered by the Herald-Leader during a similar downsizing earlier this year.

Most employees who are accepted for the buyout will work through Aug. 29

The Lexington Newspaper Guild, which represents hourly newsroom workers at the paper, declined to comment.

In June, the Herald-Leader downsized its work force through buyouts and layoffs. It went from the equivalent of almost 417 full-time employees in May to about 382 in July.

On Monday, Kelly said the Herald-Leader is profitable, just not as profitable as in the past.

Even after the current round of buyouts, he said, the Herald-Leader will continue to be the largest news-gathering organization in Central Kentucky. With the paper and Kentucky.com, the Herald-Leader will reach more readers and viewers than ever before.

The Lexington newspaper is owned by The McClatchy Company, which has 29 other newspapers and is the nation's third-largest publisher based on circulation.

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