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WHITE NOISE

by YES! Staff

McClatchy to cut 1,600 jobs
Citing declining revenues and debt worries, McClatchy Company, the parent company of the Raleigh News & Observer and the Charlotte Observer, announced that it plans to eliminate 15 percent of its work force or 1,600 jobs, according to a News & Observer report published March 9. Details of the impact on McClatchy’s Raleigh operation have yet to be released by the company. N&O Publisher Orage Quarles III told employees in a memo that company officials want to review every option before deciding how the cuts will be carried out in Raleigh. He said he planned to announce decisions over the next couple of weeks. The plan also involves wage reductions across the newspaper company. McClatchy had said previously that it planned deep cost cuts this year, hoping to save between $100 million and $110 million, according to the N&O report. “The effects of the current national economic downturn make it essential that we move even faster to realign our workforce and make our operations more efficient,” McClatchy Chairman and Chief Executive Gary Pruitt said in a statement. “We previously discussed a plan to reach a targeted level of cost savings, but given the worsening economy, we must do more.” McClatchy’s debt worries stem from its 2006 acquisition of the Knight Ridder newspaper chain. The company owed about $2 billion at the end of 2008. The N&O eliminated 213 full-time positions last year through voluntary buyouts, outsourcing and other steps. The Raleigh newspaper has 613 full-time positions. — KTB Garber honored with exhibit Mary Garber, former sportswriter for the Winston-Salem Journal and the Twin City Sentinel, was a legend when she passed at 92 last September in the Camel City. She began her career as a society reporter for the Sentinel in 1940, and found herself pressed into the general assignment slot during World War II. She got her first taste of sportswriting in 1944, and by 1946 the woman who once played tackle football for the Buena Vista Devils worked the sports desk full time. For a period she was the only female sportswriter in ACC country, and often talked about waiting outside locker rooms while her male colleagues were inside getting quotes. She is remembered as one of the first women to work in sprts journalism, the first woman to be inducted to the US Basketball Writers Hall of Fame, the 2005 winner of the Red Smith Award given by the Associated Press Sports Editors and the namesake of both the Association of Women in Sports Media’s Pioneer Award and a Winston-Salem high school girls’ basketball tournament. And now she is the subject of a permanent exhibit at the Gateway YWCA in the city where she made her mark. Many of her trophies and plaques, incuding her Red Smith Award, along with her photographs and writings, will now inspire future generations of young female athletes and aspiring sprtswriters. Check it out when you get the chance. — BC Credit-card bust James Surowiecki writes in the March 16 issue of The New Yorker that for the first time in decades credit-card companies are trying to get rid of customers. The reason, naturally, is that with the economic slowdown and rising unemployment the companies are also finding customers unable to pay off debts: Surowiecki reports that debts companies had to write off rose 40 percent from December 2007 to December 2008. The paradox of the credit-card business — and of the phantom economy of the past three decades, I would submit — is that discerning between good and bad customers is a shifty business. “Their best customers aren’t those who dutifully pay off their balance every month; instead, they’re the ones who charge a lot and pay only a little every month, carrying a sizeable balance and racking up interest rates and late fees,” Surowiecki writes. “These are the ‘revolvers,’ and the credit-card business feeds on them. Credit-card companies don’t necessarily want revolvers to pay off their debts; if they did, there’d be no interest or fees to collect.” The contracting of the industry is probably good news over the long-term because it means American consumers will again purchase goods based on actual assets instead of fantasies of potential future earnings. But in the short term, it means more economic pain spread among the many. “It’s like a drug addict whose dealer cuts him off: It’s good to stop using, but withdrawal is painful,” Surowiecki writes. “The end of the credit-card boom isn’t going to wreak as much havoc as the end of the housing boom. But it is helping to put the brake on spending. And, at this point, every little bit hurts.” — JG

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