Owner: Department of Defense
Effective: Sept. 17, 2010
Six editorial employees were laid off globally; one open position was eliminated. A memo from editorial director Terry Leonard indicates additional layoffs were made in other departments.
Source: Paper Cuts tip
Memo from Stars and Stripes editor Terry Leonard
It is with regret that I announce that we must part ways with some of our valued employees in order to implement a necessary plan to restructure the editorial department.
This complex plan, mandated by financial necessity, abolishes seven positions including one that is vacant and creates a new one overseas that is expected to be filled by one of the incumbent bureau chiefs. In addition, the plan reshuffles the duties of some assistant managing editor positions and abolishes a copy editor position currently vacant in Central. The decision was also made not to extend the expired contract of a Germany-based 13-month contract XSS copy editor.
The publisher directed the organization, including editorial , to implement a restructure plan that would produce a significant reduction in personnel costs and at the same time better align Stripes to compete on digital platforms.
As part of that, Stripes will create a new interactive media department that will be headed by a director and staffed with web designers and developers worldwide. This department will assist all the other departments with meeting new, ambitious digital goals.
It clearly is not fair that some people will lose their jobs through no fault of their own. But the decision had to be made for financial reasons. Even though Stripes still has sufficient financial resources in reserve, the company is not allowed to budget to a loss in this next fiscal year.
It is, however, important to note that no additional layoffs are contemplated now or in the foreseeable future for editorial. If our revenues continue to fall short of targets, cuts would come in other areas of the budget.
Overall, the entire news organization is undergoing a restructure. There are changes and layoffs in other departments. There is significant new sales pressure in advertising and new quotas that must be met. For some time now, editorial has been the engine driving change and reform at this news organization. There is now growing pressure on other departments to follow that lead and to prepare Stripes for a digital future.
As a department we still have more to do. It has been clear for some time that we had no control over our long term print circulation. The wars, as all wars do, wind down. Troops go home. Our circulation is not controlled by our efforts, but by the decisions at the Pentagon and White House. The only area where our own efforts can influence our audience in large numbers is on the web.
That is why we began more than two and a half years ago to try to change the content strategy. It is why we decided we needed to learn to produce stories that were broader and deeper and appealed to a broader, geographically diverse audience. It is precisely why we must continue to get better at this strategy. It is the only way we can grow the web audience. And, growing the web audience is the only way as journalists we can influence our revenues and the financial health of the organization.
This restructure makes us leaner , especially in management positions. We will all be asked to do more. It can’t be helped. These changes are aimed at ensuring our future.
To meet the requirement to reduce personnel costs, some editorial positions had to be eliminated. We were given no choice. The decisions on which positions, and ultimately which individuals, would be eliminated in the restructure were complex and depended on the particular position.
In the process, I was directed to determine which positions could be eliminated or repurposed to achieve the results mandated by the publisher. If there was more than one incumbent in a particular position, the decision on which employee to separate was based solely on a matrix required by federal regulation. That matrix used a weighted average to evaluate incumbents based on seniority and performance. Performance evaluations were given more weight, but both seniority and performance were considered. Production of the matrix was reviewed and approved by both human resource officials and the company labor lawyer.
The plan also calls for the reshuffling or realignment of some of the duties. With fewer managers worldwide, the duties of those managers had to be reapportioned.
The restructure has its greatest impact on management positions. That is to be expected for several reasons. First, as print circulation continues its steady decline, it does not mean that we need fewer designers, copy editors and reporters to produce the product. It only means we are selling lower numbers of the product. Second, to achieve the necessary personnel cost reductions, we would have had to eliminate more of those jobs than was prudent. Third, the shift in our emphasis to digital formats allows us to streamline and flatten our management. We will have fewer numbers of managers with more authority.
Under the new structure, the position of the Managing Editor for Presentation and Administration, Robb Grindstaff, will be abolished as a personnel cost saving measure. The current duties of that position will be assumed by the Senior Managing Editor and the Editorial Director. Some of those responsibilities may be delegated later.
The plan eliminates the two current positions of Europe and Pacific Bureau Chief and in their place creates a new Deputy Managing Editor, based in Tokyo, who will oversee newsgathering in both the Europe and Pacific theaters. The plan assumes that either the incumbent Europe or Pacific bureau chief will be selected for this position through a competitive posting. The incumbent deputy bureau chiefs in Europe and the Pacific will now play an enhanced role in the management of each theater and will carry the title of Europe News Editor and Pacific News Editor. They will report directly to the Deputy Managing Editor in Tokyo.
The plan also reshuffles and realigns the duties and responsibilities of the assistant managing editors in Central. Under the plan, there will be an AME overseeing the Europe/Mideast additions, an AME overseeing the Pacific editions and a single AME overseeing sports, graphics and features.
Brian Bowers will become AME for the Europe/Mideast Editions. Eric Brandner will remain AME for Pacific editions. Chris Six will continue to direct the graphics department as the Graphics Editor, but will report to Sean Moores who will be the AME in charge of sports, graphics and features.
The restructure also eliminates one copy editor position in Central, a vacant copy editor position in Central, one copy editor position in Tokyo and one reporting position in Osan, South Korea. One reporting position in Europe, previously held by Steve Mraz, has been abolished earlier, separate from this plan.
We will hold a staff meeting in Central to answer as many questions about this reorganization as we can. In coming weeks, after the selection of the Deputy Managing Editor, I will travel to both the Pacific and European theater to meet with the staff to answer questions and help outline how we proceed in the future.