Journal braces for more layoffs: Dow Jones blames failing revenues for job cuts

More layoffs are expected across the board for Dow Jones & Co. employees in the coming weeks.

By:Brian Shappell
   More layoffs, the second round since April, are expected across the board for Dow Jones & Co. employees in the coming weeks.
   Dow Jones Chairman and CEO Peter Kann issued a letter to employees last week stating the company, based on Route 1 at Ridge Road in South Brunswick, will be instituting more cost-cutting measures, including staff reductions, due to economic difficulties.
   Officials with the company said they are unsure how many employees will be laid off and when exactly it will happen.
   Vickee Adams, director of corporate communications, said the company is trying to make the cuts in as humane a way as possible and that it hoped to conclude the process promptly.
   This year, a total of 202 employees have been laid off nationwide, 98 at South Brunswick, since the company announced in March its intention to reduce expenses and staff.
   Officials, including Ms. Adams and Mr. Kann, had said in April that they did not anticipate further layoffs after April. However, the company is suffering a more broad downturn in advertising than expected, according to Mr. Kann’s letter.
   "We hoped, at the time, that these cuts, totaling $120 million annually out of an expense base of $1.7 billion, would be sufficient to get us through the current economic difficulties," Mr. Kann said in his letter to Dow Jones employees. "Unfortunately, that has not proven to be the case. The downturn in advertising and some other revenues has been broader and more pronounced than we had expected, and has lasted longer then we hoped that it would."
   Rose Eckhardt, a member of the Independent Association of Publishers’ Employees, said further cuts will hurt staff morale and its ability to keep up with an increasing workload.
   "Of course nobody likes it," said Ms. Eckhardt, a six-year employee. "It’s a little tough to try to squeeze everything in."
   Ms. Eckhardt said layoffs are making it increasingly difficult for employees to manage their respective workloads because they were increased as employees were let go. She also said the company was not authorizing overtime pay to those having a problem finishing their work in a 40-hour week.
   She also said many projects that were being worked on were dropped because of the sudden layoffs.
   "We lost good people that knew a lot of things," Ms. Eckhardt said. "One week you’re talking to someone, next week they’re gone. One guy came back from a vacation and found out he didn’t have a job."
   Ms. Eckhardt said union members were angered after Mr. Kann’s compensation statistics were printed in the union newsletter. Ms. Eckhardt said Mr. Kann’s earnings included a 7.4 percent salary increase, 35.3 percent bonus increase and an earning of $1.73 million before stock options.
   "If people can lose their jobs, why can’t someone lose their bonuses. Put that back in the pot," Ms. Eckhardt said.
   Officials with the union, which represents approximately 2,500 Dow Jones employees in jobs ranging from clerical workers to reporters, could not be reached for comment.
   The layoffs are an industrywide trend. According to iwantmedia,, a Web site that tracks the media industry, about 100,000 jobs could be cut from media and content companies before the year is out.
   In addition, Reuters, a European business newswire service, has reported that Knight Ridder Inc., which owns the San Jose Mercury News, Miami Herald and Philadelphia Inquirer, said it would eliminate 1,700 jobs and that the New York Times Co. could cut 8 to 9 percent of its workforce.
   Ms. Adams said in April that 6 percent of the South Brunswick facility’s workforce had been let go. She said at that time no more jobs would be lost in the near future.
   The company, which publishes The Wall Street Journal, recorded a loss of $274.3 million, or $3.15 per share, in the fourth quarter of 2000, and a loss of $119 million or $1.35 per share, for all of 2000. On March 7, Dow Jones announced that it would be cutting back expenses and reducing staff. A series of layoffs ensued during the following weeks until April 12, when the company announced that it had completed its downsizing. A total of $60 million was recovered in expense cuts, some of which came from sources other than layoffs, said Ms. Adams. Most of the money was made up through other cost-cutting methods, including rollbacks in administrative and support staff, she said.
   By April, 97 union members had lost their jobs throughout the country. Approximately 54 of those worked at the South Brunswick facility. At South Brunswick, administration positions were laid off, one from the circulation department, 43 from the information technology field and seven from the news department.
   Mr. Kann said in his letter that, along with the decrease in active employees, there will be a extension of the Smarter Spending Initiative. The program has identified more than $43 million in nonpersonnel cost reduction and is trying to identify an additional $7 million, according to Mr. Kann’s letter.
   Mr. Kann also said in the release the company was going to continue to push forward on projects that "promise future growth," including the Wall Street Journal color-page expansion, redesign of and the extension of Dow Jones Newswires into non-English languages.