Hard Times At Cox Plantation

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The things that appear in the Mostly Media tip jar. My, my, my. These are indeed hard times for many. Today, a memo(s) from upper management to staff at the AJC:

Folks,

You may have heard today that one of our sister papers in Cox, The Palm Beach Post, announced a voluntary separation program that will reduce its workforce significantly. Because a move like this is sure to raise questions here, I wanted to communicate directly to you and to pass along a note that Sandy Schwartz, president of Cox Newspapers, sent to all Cox publishers today.

First, let me say this: All Cox newspapers are carefully assessing their own markets and business models and will be taking the actions necessary to remain financially sound. We have been doing this work for the past two years and will continue. As we have said, we have three primary objectives this year:

Stabilize our print business
Grow our digital business
Reduce costs overall

Work on all three of these fronts is progressing. Our AJC 2.0 efforts are in final prototyping stages. Our digital traffic continues to climb, and this week, we begin overarching digital strategy work. We have made significant cost reductions, but as I said in a recent General Management Meeting, we have more to do this year.

The economic factors affecting our business have worsened. The recession, the housing market downturn, as well as soaring newsprint and fuel costs have increased the urgency to reduce expenses. We will do so aggressively and in ways that make most sense for our market, our readers and our advertisers.

Let me also assure you that we will continue to innovate, inform and engage — and we will remain the leading source of news and information for metro Atlanta.

I have tremendous confidence in the future of the AJC, and I appreciate your contributions to the success of our company.

John (mellott)

A message from Sandy Schwartz, president, Cox Newspapers, Inc.

As we all know, the newspaper industry is under significant financial pressure. This has been largely brought on by the movement of advertising from print to online. However, additional pressure has been placed on the newspaper industry by the economy, escalating newsprint prices, circulation declines and soaring fuel prices.

We are and will remain the leading multi-media option for the customers, readers and advertisers in our markets. While we run our newspapers extremely efficiently, Cox Newspapers isn’t immune to financial distress. We will continue to responsibly manage our newspapers and to accelerate our digital strategy in order to transform our operations, both in print and online.

Today an announcement of a voluntary separation program was made at The Palm Beach Post. Employees were offered a generous severance package. This is the first phase of a plan to reduce workforce and will be followed by involuntary staffing reductions in August.

Please know that the decision to eliminate employee positions was difficult but necessary. We appreciate the contributions these employees have made, and continue to make, to the company. And, consistent with the values of our company, we will treat our employees with fairness, dignity and respect throughout this process.

We have no expectations newspapers will return to the highly profitable days of the past; we do believe, however, we can publish newspapers that continue to make us proud and produce positive earnings.

I encourage you to share my message with your staff. Thanks to you and your team for all of your hard work.

ss

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