The Charlotte Area Association of Black Journalists (CAABJ) is an affiliate chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), a nonprofit organization focused on establishing strong ties among African-Americans working in the media and expanding and balancing the media's coverage of the African-American community and experience.

March 23, 2009

The Charlotte Observer Initiates More Layoffs

Observer Announces Cuts In Staff, Pay

By Jefferson George
Posted on on March 23, 2009

Faced with sharply declining revenues in the recession, The Charlotte Observer will cut its workforce by 14.6 percent and reduce the pay of most remaining employees, the company announced this morning.

In addition to the 82 companywide layoffs -- 60 full-time and 22 part-time employees -- the Observer also plans to reduce the hours of some employees. The company's plan to save costs also includes a one-week furlough for employees later this year if economic conditions don't improve.

"We have really looked every place we can," said Ann Caulkins, the Observer's publisher, during a meeting with newsroom employees this morning.

Today's announcement is the fourth round of staff cuts over the last several months, and reductions will be in several departments, including advertising, operations, circulation, marketing and the newsroom.

A total of 30 newsroom positions -- 19 full-time and 11 part-time -- will be eliminated, Observer Editor Rick Thames said. In addition, 14 full-time newsroom employees have been offered reduced hours, said Cheryl Carpenter, the managing editor. Editors expect to finish notifying all affected employees by noon, Carpenter said.

Among remaining employees, pay for those earning at least $25,000 a year will be reduced according to a graduated scale, Caulkins said. "The top earners get more of a pay cut," she said.

Caulkins blamed the recession and especially the banking crisis for the Observer's plummeting advertising revenues, which she said were so hard to imagine that she hesitates to predict how the economy will affect the Observer in the months ahead.

"I can't begin to think 'next,'" she said.

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