Alabama Media Group, the company responsible for the production of The Birmingham News, The Huntsville Times, and the Mobile Press-Register in addition to al.com, internally announced layoffs on Monday. Mobile and saw five (5) positions affected; Birmingham also had five positions affected, including four on the newsroom side.
The following was provided to The Terminal this morning by the company’s vice president for content, Michelle Holmes.
Today, we made a variety of changes in our staff. In our quest to constantly focus on a sustainable future, we have had to make some very tough decisions about which positions and who best fits into that future.
Because such personnel matters are sensitive, and circumstances in each case unique, we will not address specific moves. Individuals’ situations will be kept confidential, as any of us would want with regard to our own employment.
We have been clear for the last several months that we are regularly assessing our staffing needs, our skills and our overall performance in building and serving audiences. Today’s moves are part of that process.
As you know, we have recently hired several people in different roles, and we have job postings active for others. We remain committed to building this company, ensuring we have the right people in the right roles and adding to the overall skills and abilities of our teams in all locations.
While we recognize the difficulty of decisions like these, it is critical that we do what is necessary to position ourselves to be able to provide significant local journalism both now and in the future.
I look forward to ongoing conversations with you as we move forward together in that mission.
The changes at the company follow a little more than three weeks after an optimistic bi-annual letter from Advance Local president Randy Siegel; one that hinted at potential layoffs across the company (as reported by Poynter on January 6). The letter stated the company anticipates it will see digital ad sales growth outpace declines in print ad sales this year.
It was not the only announcements related to layoffs in newsrooms in the southeastern United States from Monday. Romanesko.com posted on Tuesday morning about layoffs at the Chattanooga Times Free-Press – on the same day they learned of a merit bonus. The New Orleans Advocate also reported on layoffs set to take place in late March at the New Orleans Times-Picayune as they prepare to move from their long-time headquarters. This is part of a plan to outsource the printing of their newspaper to the Alabama Central Service’s facility in Mobile, resulting in 100 additional job losses announced last year.
UPDATE, 1/29/2015: The text of this story now reflects additional information received since the initial report was filed. It also includes information about additional job reductions at other Advance properties in the southeastern United States.