Tough news for good people: St. Petersburg Times’ to slash salaries (another) 5%

in Uncategorized by

It’s not been a good day for the folks at First Avenue South…

Am hearing, still all rumors and speculations, that St. Petersburg Times publisher Paul Tash will address the staff at 1:45 p.m. today to announce a mandatory, across-the-board pay cut of 5%.  This cut comes on top of a previous 5% pay cut instituted in 2009.

I am reminded of a Tweet posted during the last round of cuts, I believe it was from Adam Smith, in which he said something like ‘maybe I’ll work 5% less today.’

The decision to cut pay comes in contrast to other media outlets, like the Tampa Tribune, which have instituted a series of furloughs.

Updated – 2:35 p.m. The Times’ Eric Deggans confirms my post with his own story here.

Here is the text of Paul Tash’s letter:

The sputtering economy took a turn for the worse this summer, and the St. Pete Times is not immune. To cut expenses, we are temporarily reducing pay by 5 percent for all full-time staffers through January 2012, and providing five extra paid days off during the same five-month period.

Many newspapers have responded to the recession with furloughs, but we believe this is a better approach, both for staffers and the company. It will reduce payroll expense roughly $1-million over the next five months.

I regret the hardship this action will cause to staffers and their households, but it will give us time to judge the severity of this downturn, and to consider other options for reducing expenses on a permanent basis.

Those steps will likely include further job reductions. With that in mind, the company is changing its severance policy, from the current maximum of 40 weeks’ pay to a new cap of 26 weeks – the equivalent of six months – starting October 1.

I am fed up with this recession, like each of you, and I’m tired of having to bring tough news about its effect on the company and all of us. But I am not discouraged, because every week I see big gains in our drive to become the newspaper – in print and electronically – for all of Tampa Bay.

The faster we make those gains, the more we will control our own fortunes, whether or not the economy offers much help. Meanwhile, I remain enormously proud of this organization, and proud to work with all of you.

Paul Tash
CEO and Chairman
The St. Petersburg Times

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.