November 16, 2016 Last Updated 11:45 am

The Detroit News offers buyouts to entire editorial staff

Those who agree would be paid one week of severance pay for every six months of employment – then, if not enough volunteer, layoffs would presumably begin

It is still budget time at many newspaper companies, and so faced with numbers that simply don’t add up, and with ad directors not promising revenue gains for 2017, some papers are making cuts – some deeper than others.

tdn-front-11-16-16-225The Detroit News, owned by Digital First Media, is is offering a buyout package to its entire editorial staff, with those that accept receiving one week of severance pay for every six months of employment, up to 26 weeks of pay. If not enough people decide that they no longer want to work at the paper, layoffs would begin.

The Detroit News is part of a joint operating agreement with the Detroit Free Press, owned by Gannett (it had previously been part of Knight-Ridder). That business, the Detroit Media Partnership, handles advertising, production and circulation.

The News is caught in a terrible situation, owned by a company which is controlled by the private equity company Alden Global Capital. As any PE would do, it would probably prefer to sell out, but the DFM chain is made up of MediaNews Group and Journal Register Co. newspapers, and who would buy? The only two logical candidates would be Gannett and New Media Investment Group, neither of which are generating the kinds of profits that would be needed to self-finance a deal. Of course, there is always the bankruptcy option, preferred by some PE owned companies to reduce their debt.

In late October, staff at the Free Press receive a bit of good news, layoffs ordered by Gannett would not impact their paper. “Fortunately, local management has told us that these cuts will not impact members of Local 22 of the Detroit Newspaper Guild who work at the Detroit Free Press,” the Guild told its members. Other Gannett papers, though, were hit with layoffs that amounted to a 2 percent workforce cut.

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