July 21, 2017

Journalists at newspapers in Digital First Media’s Southern California News Group got a memo on Friday announcing an unspecified number of buyouts, OC Weekly’s Gustavo Arellano reported Friday.

The news of buyouts was a bit better than the layoffs the newsroom was expecting thanks to a pretty sloppy move, Arellano reported:

Those sources were working off a bombshell memo by CFO Dan Scofield dated July 11 that someone stupidly left on a printer in the Register newsroom and that had gotten around the office. The faux pas was confirmed by SCNG executive editor Frank Pine.

SCNG newsrooms include the Orange County Register and the Long Beach Press Telegram and will affect 11 newsrooms in all. The memo leads with growth in traffic and unique visitors as well as an upcoming coming reorganization. Here’s the part where they get to the actual buyouts:

In the next few weeks, we will be offering a voluntary separation package. We are hopeful there will be enough volunteers for us to avoid layoffs, and that as part of this process, we are also able to reassign staff and hire for positions critical to fulfilling our digital strategy.

It’s too early to say precisely how many people or positions will be affected. The goal will be based on the financial performance of the company as well as our ability to identify other potential savings. We anticipate making a more formal announcement of the voluntary severance package with all of the pertinent details in August. We then expect it will take a few weeks for people to decide whether they want to participate and for us to determine how we will go forward. We hope to complete the process no later than the end of September.

This year, Digital First Media, Gannett and McClatchy have made continual headlines for ongoing layoffs. DFM’s guild is keeping track of the cuts, which included the Pulitzer Prize-winning East Bay Times.

The decision to offer buyouts was difficult, SCNG’s memo ended with, but necessary to remain “a stable and profitable business.”

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Kristen Hare teaches local journalists the critical skills they need to serve and cover their communities as Poynter's local news faculty member. Before joining faculty…
Kristen Hare

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