Articles about "Journal Register Company"


‘Mean Girls’ reporter lands at sister paper to the one that fired him

Isaac Avilucea is now covering courts and schools at The (Torrington, Conn.) Register Citizen.

The North Adams Transcript fired Avilucea in October after he quoted a high-school athlete saying her old school was like “the movie ‘Mean Girls.’ ”

The Transcript is owned by MediaNewsGroup. The Register Citizen is owned by 21st Century Media, formerly known as Journal Register Company. Both companies are managed by Digital First Media. In an email to Poynter Thursday, Avilucea said he was at his “14-day anniversary” at the paper. “So I still have time to break my record,” he wrote. He was at the Transcript for 18 days. Read more

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Paton: ‘Bad CEOs and worse editors’ are trying to ‘kill our future’

John Paton

Speaking at the Global News Editors conference in Paris, Digital First Media CEO John Paton said Friday that “editors resisting change are aided and abetted by lousy CEOs and news executives.”

Paton posted text and slides from his speech, scheduled to be delivered Friday afternoon Paris time, on his blog. In it he presents a slide he says “solves for the percent of dollars in print advertising, digital advertising, subscription revenue and all other revenue plus expenses and, of course, profit.”

By Paton’s calculations, Lee Enterprises and McClatchy will continue to lose money while Digital First Media — whose Journal Register Company filed for bankruptcy last year — is experiencing an operating profit.

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Journal Register sale delayed by union vote

Digital First Media

An agreement between the Newspaper Guild of Detroit and 21st CMH Acquisition Co. has delayed the sale of Journal Register Company, Adrienne LaFrance reports.

The deal eliminates 15 positions, including laying off five circulation clerks, three janitors and seven paginators who worked at the Macomb Daily and the Daily Tribune. Unionized employees had been braced for worse, including 15 percent across-the-board pay cuts. JRC newspapers elsewhere in the country are also reporting layoffs on the horizon, including 11 cuts to news and circulation staff at The Daily Freeman in New York. A letter was sent to all Journal Register employees in February that said the new company will decide which employees it will hire.

The sale had been scheduled for Tuesday. Journal Register Company filed for bankruptcy in September. Read more

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Court approves Journal Register bankruptcy sale

Digital First Media

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York has approved Journal Register Company’s sale to 21st CMH Acquisition Co., JRC said this morning in a press release. The sale is scheduled to occur April 2.

21st CMH Acquisition Co. is a unit of Alden Global Capital, which already owns Journal Register. When Journal Register announced its bankruptcy, Digital First Media CEO John Paton told employees the company could “no longer afford the legacy obligations incurred in the past.” Selling the company, even to a unit of its current owners, could allow it to shed some of those obligations.

21st CMH is negotiating with the Guild at JRC’s Michigan papers. Guild members say 21st CMH asked for a 15 percent across-the-board pay cut and wants the ability to outsource jobs. (Efforts to locate a 21st CMH spokesperson have so far proven fruitless.) A Guild bulletin Poynter obtained (embedded below) says the next bargaining sessions are scheduled for March 30 and 31 and April 1. Read more

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Mich. unions say JRC has ‘declared war,’ threaten strike

Journal Register Company and 21st CMH Acquisition Co., the hedge fund unit that plans to buy it out of bankruptcy, have “declared war,” a bulletin sent to union members says. The bulletin cites what it says are previous union-busting tactics in other markets. In Philadelphia and New York, the union says:

21st CMH sent letters to JRC employees telling them they could apply for their own jobs when 21st CMH becomes the employer. 21st CMH would selectively hire some employees. The new terms of employment by 21st CMH, according to the letters, include:

  • 15% pay cut.
  • employees pay 50% of health insurance cost and 50% of future premium increases.
  • elimination of all pension plans.
  • reduced vacation schedule.
  • reduced severance pay if jobs are eliminated.
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Journal Register Company, hedge fund sign purchase agreement

Journal Register Company
The Journal Register Company signed a “stalking horse” agreement with 21st CMH Acquisition Co., a unit of Alden Global Capital. JRC declared bankruptcy in September.

The purchase may seem a little weird because Alden already owns Journal Register Company. At the time JRC declared bankruptcy, Digital First Media CEO John Paton sent an FAQ to employees (PDF) that said the company could “no longer afford the legacy obligations incurred in the past.”

Many of those obligations, such as leases, were entered into in the past when revenues, at their peak, were nearly twice as big as they are today and are no longer sustainable.

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Journal Register likely to reduce print frequency at some papers

The new slimmed-down Journal Register company, being pieced together in a bankruptcy proceeding, is likely to eliminate at least some daily print editions at several of its 20 dailies.

“I would consider and am considering a reduction in print frequency in some markets — (which ones) to be determined,” CEO John Paton wrote me in an e-mail interview earlier this week. “I think it makes sense to think about the frequency of print as print revenues decline and digital revenues increase.”

In his blog, Paton has already praised Advance Publications’ decision to shift the New Orleans Times-Picayune to a three-day-a-week print publication at the end of this month  (with the qualifiers that the announcement was poorly handled and the website needs improvement quickly to support the change). For Journal Register, Paton said the change need not be dropping four weekday editions — eliminating one or two would still have benefits in moving readership to digital platforms. Read more

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JRC made $30 million in digital revenue in 2011

CJR | CJR
Digital First Media CEO John Paton shared some financial information with Columbia Journalism Review reporter Ryan Chittum, who also posts a Journal Register Company bankruptcy document filed with a court in New York.

Of JRC’s $295 million in revenue last year, $167.1 million of it was print ads, $86 million was print circulation, and $30.1 million was digital ads. That means digital ads were 10.2 percent of JRC’s total revenue, up sharply from the pre-Paton era when it was a miserable 2.8 percent.

Chittum points out three important caveats: Read more

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Journal Register bankruptcy gets second-day analysis

The Journal Register Company announced it was declaring bankruptcy Wednesday. Digital First Media operates JRC; its CEO, John Paton, said in the announcement that a subsidiary of JRC’s current owners has made a bid for the company, so possibly when the company emerges from bankruptcy it will enjoy the same management, just with less debt. It’s not an easy business move to get one’s arms around. Here are a couple of explainers.

JRC editor Matt DeRienzo calls the bankruptcy a “big, pain-in-the-ass distraction in the short-term” but is optimistic: The company “remains very profitable on an operating basis,” he writes, and newsroom spending is “flat” company-wide. “That’s a remarkable achievement in the environment and economy of today,” DeRienzo writes, “and I’d challenge you to find another major newspaper company that hasn’t cut newsroom spending over that time period.” The Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp., DeRienzo writes, will see that JRC employees won’t lose their retirement. Read more

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Journal Register can’t afford for legacy costs to derail Digital First progress

Journal Register filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Wednesday. Hey, aren’t these the same folks who have been touting as breakthroughs each step along the way of their fast-track digital transition?

Well, yes. Some will view the bankruptcy filing, the company’s second in three years, as evidence that Journal Register has been blowing smoke about how much digital revenue is there for the taking. And some will suggest that CEO John Paton may want to step back from his conference circuit role as avatar of the industry’s future.

Paton, not surprisingly, doesn’t see it that way. His public and in-house announcements contend that the digital transition has been going well and should continue without a course correction. The problem, he said, is legacy costs that cannot be reduced quickly enough.

In an e-mail July 17 and in subsequent conversations, Paton told me he believes many other companies face the same financial pressures. Read more

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