And At The New London Day ...
Cost-cutting and layoffs as The Day restructures
By Anthony Cronin
Day Business Editor
Published on 6/7/2008
New London - The Day Publishing Co. on Friday announced sweeping cost-cutting measures, including companywide layoffs and a wage freeze, to help shore up revenues buffeted by a weakening economy and changing readership trends. The company said 21 full-time and 17 part-time employees were laid off this week, representing about 9 percent of The Day's overall work force. In addition, the company will not fill 14 full- and part-time job vacancies in various departments.
Gary Farrugia, The Day's editor and publisher, said he deeply regretted the cost-cutting moves but said grim economic realities and budgetary constraints forced the company to enact cost reductions across all departments.
”This is very un-Day like,” said Farrugia of the cutbacks at the independent newspaper, whose local origins stretch back to 1881. “But it would not have been done if the situation didn't radically call for it,” he added. The Day's annual revenues have declined about 13.5 percent this year from 2007 levels, Farrugia said.
The publisher, who addressed employees during companywide meetings throughout Friday, said a troubled economy and spiraling energy prices have taken their toll on The Day's revenues. And he said that “historic shifts” in readership trends were affecting all mainstream media outlets across the country.
Other expense reductions at The Day include suspending the company's annual holiday bonus to its 414 employees, ending manager-level bonuses, decreasing the board of directors' annual retainer and dropping four pages from the daily newspaper.
”Our aim is not just to cut expenses, but to restructure our company,” Farrugia said. Despite the cutbacks, Farrugia expressed confidence in the company's flagship product, The Day newspaper, which is still a dominant source of revenues. He said the company is investing heavily in the newspaper with an overhaul of its presses to accommodate a redesign of The Day that will debut on Wednesday, June 18.
”I don't happen to think the daily newspaper is going away,” Farrugia said. Over the past decade, The Day has been diversifying into a broad-based information provider that encompasses a daily newspaper, TheDay.com Web site, weekly newspapers, magazines, custom printing and publishing and new community-focused Zip06.com Internet sites.
Farrugia said The Day “is transforming from a daily newspaper into an information company that operates off multiple integrated platforms.”
Several of the company's new diversified interests are showing strong growth, including its Shore Publishing weeklies, which are a chain of weeklies published west of the Connecticut River.
This past month, TheDay.com reached a record 1 million unique visits and revenues from the site are up 33 percent from 2007. In addition, profits at The Times chain of weeklies across southeastern Connecticut have almost doubled and magazines produced by The Day's Custom Publishing division are setting new records.
Farrugia said the success of these new ventures “bodes well for the company's future” and said he believes that the economics of the daily newspaper will eventually stabilize. “We're through the worst of it (this year),” Farrugia said of the cost-cutting measures, “and I hope we're through the worst of it for good.”