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by Jordan Green

Journal owner announces furloughs

The news for daily newspapers is somewhat like the news for the American economy in general, except that the travails of the newspaper industry started around 2005, as opposed to late 2008. The news is outlook remains dismal with few, if any, signs of resurgence. Par for the course was a memo sent out by Media General CEO Marshall Morton — the company owns the Winston-Salem Journal — announcing that “employees at all levels will be asked to take 15 furlough days in the second half of this year.”

Not as bad as layoffs, furloughs amount to unpaid time off. In addition to a reduction in employees’ earnings, the move also translates to diminished capacity by the newspapers to cover the news, and opportunity for upstarts that have the talent and moxie to move into the gaps.

“The furlough program will cause financial disruption for employees and scheduling challenges for our operations,” Morton writes. “It’s little comfort that we are not alone. Other media companies have implemented layoffs and furlough programs this year. In addition to the impact of the weak economy, it’s a sign that traditional media business models continue to be in tradition.”

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