Halifax lays off more than half of staff reporting to former NYT Regional HQ in Tampa

About 30 employees of the former New York Times Regional Media Group were notified Friday that their new employer, Halifax Media Group, has decided to lay them off and offer severance packages. The other 20 were offered positions, but only if they relocated to Daytona Beach, Fla., where Halifax is headquartered.

A letter accompanying documents distributed Friday said Halifax “has reviewed the company’s Tampa operations to see where additional efficiencies can be achieved by eliminating or consolidating certain job functions and operations.”

Employees “who were offered a package were told that they wouldn’t be given severance if they speak to the media or publicly discuss the situation,” said one source. A second source confirmed the confidentiality clause, which reads, in part:

Employees agree to hold confidential both the terms of this agreement and the circumstances underlying it, except [to] the extent that he is required to reveal information under legal process. Employee may also reveal the details of this agreement to employee’s immediate family, accountant and attorney, but only if those individuals agree to keep confidential the information revealed to them.

The severance offer also includes a non-disparagement clause that prohibits signees from making “any disparaging or untrue statement about the company, its affiliates, owners, stockholders or about any employee of the company.”

No one in marketing who works out of the Tampa office was offered a position, three sources said. But marketing employees based in Lakeland were offered positions. All but one of the product managers were let go. All the developers and salespeople were offered positions, according to the sources. Staffers were told the paperwork could not be signed earlier than their separation date, which would be Feb. 10.

The centralized management team for the former New York Times Regional Media Group has handled sales assistance, marketing, business, digital development, IT and printing for the 16 papers across the country that were recently purchased by Halifax.

Those local news organizations also have their own journalism and sales staffs, who can expect to hear more lay off news over the next month or so.

By the terms of the sale, Halifax could only lay off a maximum 10 percent of the 2,000-person staff, but that requirement applied only to layoffs that occurred at the time of closing.

This week, two financial firms announced that they loaned Halifax about $74 million of the $143 million it paid the New York Times Co. for the properties.

Halifax created controversy earlier this year when it told former NYTRMG staff they would need to sign a noncompete agreement to stay with the company. Soon after Poynter and others raised questions about it, Halifax dropped the requirement.

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  • Anonymous

    Corporate ownership of community papers in the 70′s brought a avalanche of pressure for short term profit. That led to sales types being placed in control of operations. Content quality slid. In the 80′s corporate owners ignored the internet threat and focused on profit. I was laughed at when I brought an early Apple to an executive meeting in the mid-80′s. The combination of greed and lack of vision put those guys in the current situation. A “newspaper man” is more than just a journalist. Redding is just the latest incarnation of the “non-newspaper man” type that’s been polluting the industry for 25 years. 

  • http://twitter.com/CMR_Gen Carolyn Rutherford

    Cut-backs in staff happen as we move from traditional to more social media mktg. CFOs often think once the Social Media Channels are built, they are self-sustaining somehow or that just anybody with a smartphone can make it work.

  • Hdcom Cổ Phần

    hey, hi all friends

  • Anonymous

    Halifax Media operates like any other corporation. However, it’s not. If it wants to be a news company, it should act like one with as much transparency as possible. But it won’t, because Michael Redding has no concept of journalism. It has happened more and more over the past few years as people who have no clue are gaining control of newspapers. But then it’s more about ego and power than public service. You know. That journalism thing.

  • http://twitter.com/BarnGroover Barn Groover

    Non-disparagement clause? Methinks someone (cough cough Michael Redding) has a thin thin skin.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tom-Brown/508342691 Tom Brown

    Thank you for this information. The Daytona Beach News-Journal continues a blackout on financial news about its owner, even when the news could be considered positive, e.g. potential job growth for Daytona Beach. Bizarre. Of course, a transfer is not easy these days. It could involve selling a home at  a loss, dealing with an underwater mortgage, pulling kids out of school in the middle of the year, etc. It will be interesting to see how many accept such an offer, or if the N-J will tell us.

  • http://www.poynter.org Poynter

    I didn’t mean it to be snarky, just a signal of what was to come, but I have clarified it. Thanks for sharing your read. –Julie

  • Reykjavik

    Julie, was this statement meant in snark, or am I just misreading it: “Those local news organizations also have their own journalism and sales staffs, who can expect to begin hearing about the same ‘efficiencies’ over the next month or so.”

    Dunno, but seems like a value judgment on your part. If so, what basis do you have for such a conclusion?