MediaNews Group operates a number of local papers, such as the Delco Times, West Chester Daily Local, Pottstown Mercury, and Times Herald.
They have a history of cutting costs and eliminating jobs, and maybe you remember how these folks bought the Reading Eagle and immediately got rid of something like one-third of the staff. They stripped down their suburban Philadelphia outlets, sold newsrooms, and basically reduced this thing to the studs already. There’s almost nothing left to cut, but they’re gonna try anyway, going the route of every other media company in the country and reducing costs during the COVID-19 crisis.
Here’s a copy of the “voluntary separation plan” that they sent out to employees:
I think the number of sports people working for their newspapers in our area is somewhere in the 18-20 range. The Delco Times has unionized full timers while the other writers are spread out over a half dozen newspapers.
When you look over that separation agreement, you have to email human resources and tell them you’re interested. But then they make a decision on whether or not you’re essential, which seems like a big ole’ trap to me. They could simply deny your voluntary separation, then make a note of your willingness to leave, and simply axe you at a later date. In a way, these folks are sort of deciding whether to take a little bit of money right now, or get jack shit later.
It’s a tough situation for these regional papers because a lot of the sports folks are doing high schools and smaller community stuff. The Delco Times will cover the Sixers, Eagles, Phillies, and Flyers, and can stuff the sports section with NFL news, for example, but that’s not the same at the Mercury, where you’re covering high school gigs in a hyperlocal type of way.
Like I mentioned, these folks are already running a bare bones operation, trying to serve communities that wouldn’t receiver coverage otherwise. There’s really nothing left to cut, but MNG is gonna give it a shot anyway.
Rough times to work in media.