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The Charlotte Observer May Lose Staff In McClatchy Buyout Offer

Charlotte Observer front page, Feb. 1, 2019.

The parent company of the Charlotte Observer is cutting costs again. The McClatchy Company is offering buyouts to 450 employees including some at the Observer. CEO Craig Forman announced the move to employees in an email Friday.

The reason behind the early retirement buyout offer is a major digital transformation says Jeanne Segal, McClatchy’s director of public relations.

“There’s always a role for print, an experience that people appreciate and are willing to pay for but the trend now is digital,” Segal said.

Nationwide, newspaper print subscriptions have been declining for more than 20 years. McClatchy officials say they are trying to replace lost print subscribers, which has translated into decreased advertising dollars, with digital readers. According to an article in the Washington Post, annual print ad revenue has gone from $65 billion in 2000 to under $19 billion in recent years.

In the email, employees were told that the McClatchy papers are seeing quarterly increases in the number of digital subscribers and that the company is speeding up its focus on digital advertising sales said Jeanne Segal.

“The media industry, in general, is being disrupted by digital transformation. There are so many ways to get news. McClatchy newsrooms are offering podcasts, apps, video, we’re on Facebook and Twitter and our customers are becoming more used to digital products. Print subscriptions are declining, advertising in print is declining so we’re making the shift to digital,” Segal said.

In addition to the Charlotte Observer, McClatchy owns 30 newspapers that include the News and Observer in Raleigh, The State in Columbia and The Miami Herald.

Employees have until Feb. 19 to decide whether to accept the buyot. Sara Glines, publisher of the Charlotte Observer and News and Observer, would not comment on how many employees had been offered a buyout or if any had accept the buyout offer.

It's been a turbulent month for many in the media industry. Vice Media announced Friday it's cutting its worforce by 10 percent. Last week, Gannett, the nation's largest newspaper chain, announced job cuts at several newspoapers. Those cuts include five journalists at the Asheville Citizen-Times, according to Poynter.org. Verizon Media, which owns AOL, Yahoo, and HuffPost, is cutting about 750 jobs. BuzzFeed is also laying off about 200 employees. 

Gwendolyn is an award-winning journalist who has covered a broad range of stories on the local and national levels. Her experience includes producing on-air reports for National Public Radio and she worked full-time as a producer for NPR’s All Things Considered news program for five years. She worked for several years as an on-air contract reporter for CNN in Atlanta and worked in print as a reporter for the Baltimore Sun Media Group, The Washington Post and covered Congress and various federal agencies for the Daily Environment Report and Real Estate Finance Today. Glenn has won awards for her reports from the Maryland-DC-Delaware Press Association, SNA and the first-place radio award from the National Association of Black Journalists.