Layoffs at Post-Star while parent company gives CEO nice bonusPart of a series on troubles at The Post-Star and its parent company Lee Enterprises
by contributor Mark Wilson
Following months of seeming good news for Lee Enterprises, Inc., The Davenport Iowa Newspaper corporation which owns the Post-Star, has launched another round of layoffs across its portfolio.
The staff contact page at PostStar.com, which yesterday listed fifty-eight employees in Editorial and Business positions at the Glens Falls paper, today lists only fifty-one. Among the seven missing names/positions are:
• Photographer Aaron Eisenhauer
• Copy Editor Christopher Fitz Gerald
• Saratoga and Washington County Reporter Thomas Dimopoulos
• Washington County reporter Jamie Munks
• Washington County reporter David Taube
• Sportswriter Mary Albl
• Sportswriter Larry Hall
Stacy Perrone has also left the Post Star advertising department, but her position has been filled by Jillian Vitagliano.
Of these seven, Fitz Gerald, Munks and Albl had the shortest tenure at the paper, joining the staff only last Fall. Taube's first bylines and Eisenhauer's first photos appeared in the summer of 2010, Dimopoulos joined the newspaper in March 2007 and Larry Hall, the longest-serving member of the group, dates back over a decade to October of 2001. Similar layoffs have been announced at newspapers throughout Lee's stable of 49 daily newspapers.
In other news, Lee Enterprise this past week filed papers with the SEC declaring a $500,000 bonus for Chief Operating Office Mary Junck, and a $250,000 bonus for Chief Financial Officer Carl Schmidt. The two were credited at last week's shareholder meeting in Davenport with seeing the company through chapter 11 Bankruptcy earlier this year, despite assuring investors less than a year ago that the publisher's dire economic straights were not bankrupting the company.
The two head officers have also staved off delisting of the company stock from the New York Stock Exchange, with the assurance that the company's shareholders would accept a reverse stock split. Last week, Shareholders gave Lee's directors authority to go ahead with the reverse split—a move that could multiply the price of stock shares. The directors must decide on the ratio of the reverse split sometime before June.
Lee remains under a second delisting threat owing to the drop of its market capitalization (the number of outstanding shares times the share price) below $50 million. While recent movement of shares has pushed Lee's market capitalization above the threshold, the company has until next year to strengthen investor confidence and maintain the higher value for the long term.
This week's layoffs and last week's announcement that the web sites of all Lee newspapers will charge visitors subscription fees by the end of the year are the first mobilizations in that effort.