WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Newspaper Employees Laid Off While CEO Collects Bonus

Mar 12, 2019

Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) reported that Craig Forman, the President and CEO of the publishing company McClatchy, recently emailed employees to let them know 450 staffers will be offered early retirement.  CJR also reported that Forman's take-home pay from McClatchy in 2017 was $1.7 million, excluding restricted stock. And his newest contract with the company includes a base pay of $1 million, a bonus of $1 million, and an additional $35,000 monthly stipend.

Shop Talk panelist Will Buss worked at the McClatchy-owned Belleville News-Democrat and knows the workers who lost their jobs at that paper. Buss said the newspaper is not just losing valued employees – it’s also losing a great deal of institutional knowledge.

Buss said layoffs at newspapers erode the service the publications provide to their communities. He said readers should be upset. Buss said there is a greater need for more reporters than for CEO bonuses.

Panelist Emily Boyer also believes money should be invested in the newsrooms rather than a corporate executive.  She said Forman’s $35,000 per month stipend could pay a reporter’s annual salary and his bonus could fund an entire news department for a year.

Boyer said people buy newspapers for the content, but there is bound to be less content when there are fewer journalists to gather the news.

Panelist Rich Egger said CEOs deserve to be compensated for their efforts – but so do the people who create the product. And in this case, those people are the journalists. 

Egger said communities are hurt when there are fewer reporters to serve as public watchdogs.

Shop Talk is a weekly panel discussion.  This week’s program featured Will Buss, who teaches in the Department of Broadcasting and Journalism at WIU and advises the student editors at the Western Courier; Emily Boyer, Morning Edition host at Tri States Public Radio; and TSPR News Director Rich Egger.