May 22, 2017

The Sacramento Bee on Monday enacted a round of layoffs, the latest in a series of staff reductions executed by its corporate parent, The McClatchy Company.

Sacramento Bee Executive Editor Joyce Terhaar acknowledged the layoffs Monday morning in an email to staff that did not specify the number of staffers cut. She declined to comment on the layoffs in an email to Poynter.

“Folks — as you are all likely are aware, we have had layoffs today,” the memo read. “Everyone affected by a layoff has been told. In addition, we are offering some buyouts. Some of you are in job categories that are receiving actual packages. In addition, we will consider other requests.”

Earlier this month, McClatchy reported a net loss of $95.6 million in the first quarter of 2017, largely due to the continued decline of print advertising and a one-time charge related to the carrying value of the company’s interest in CareerBuilder. The company grew digital revenue by 11.7 percent, but it still carries $873.7 million in debt, much of it from McClatchy’s 2006 purchase of Knight Ridder for $4.5 billion.

The McClatchy Company, a national newspaper chain headquartered in The Sacramento Bee’s Midtown building, has laid off staffers from several of its newsrooms in recent weeks. On May 2, The Fresno (California) Bee reported it was laying off eight newsroom employees. The Seattle Times reported in April that the News Tribune of Tacoma, Washington was also bracing for cuts as Editor Karen Peterson announced her resignation.

Undergirding the cuts is the continued decline of print revenues that once supported far larger newsrooms at McClatchy and elsewhere across the United States. On Jan. 25, McClatchy announced that board member and longtime digital media executive Craig Forman would be its new CEO. In an interview with The Bee, Forman expressed a desire to ramp up the company’s digital efforts while being “very mindful of our allocation of resources.”

In recent months, McClatchy has embarked upon a realignment program aimed at “streamlining” the company, concentrating on regionalizing McClatchy’s audience, production, human resources and finance divisions. Four new “regional” publishers were named in March to supervise business operations across McClatchy’s portfolio of 30 publications.

Local and regional newspaper publishers have had a particularly difficult year. Major retailers such as Macy’s have cut back or eliminated their ad spending in many markets, and most of the new digital ad revenue is gobbled up by Facebook and Google. While national publishers, such as The New York Times and The Washington Post, have found success in growing circulation revenue by converting readers to digital subscribers, that strategy has proved tricky to replicate for many small-town and metropolitan newspaper companies.

Editor’s note: Poynter receives funding through a training partnership with McClatchy. The company has no influence over our news content.

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Benjamin Mullin was formerly the managing editor of He also previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow,…
Benjamin Mullin

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