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Memo from David Thompson to OPUBCO staff…

6:53 AM EDT on September 4, 2008

After the jump, we have the memo sent to OPUBCO staff from David Thompson, the president and publisher of the local media conglomerate.  The memo is an attempt to put a positive spin on the fact that they are about to fire a bunch of people.

The best part has to be towards the end where he tries to put a positive spin on everything and says:

Despite the permanent nature of the disruption we are facing, we remain optimistic about our company's future. We are successfully building audiences for our digital-related products and platforms (NewsOK and Wimgo, for example).

I don't know about you, but if I was an OPBUCO employee, I'd be pretty damn worried that the company is putting their faith and future in the hands of Wimgo.  Hell, I'm not even an employee there and it worries me.

Anyway, read the memo and tell us what you think.  Thanks to the anonymous OPUBCO employee for the tip.

From: David Thompson
Sent: Wednesday, September 03, 2008 4:00:27 PM
To: Announcements
Subject: Expense Reduction Plan

Dear Fellow Employees,

As you know, the newspaper industry is in a period of fundamental change due to the rapidly expanding availability of information from multiple sources on the internet at little or no cost to information consumers. This disruption has and will continue to impact our revenues and costs, as well as the circulation of our print products. In light of this, OPUBCO Communications Group must maintain the delicate balance between investing to grow certain parts of its business while also making difficult but necessary expense reductions.

It is against this backdrop that senior management has determined the need to implement a large scale expense reduction plan that includes reductions in our workforce. While the exact number is not set in stone, we plan on eliminating approximately 150 positions by the end of October. This process will take place in two stages.

This afternoon, we introduced a voluntary Early Retirement Program to 104 employees who are eligible for retirement under the pension plan. This program allows them, if they choose, to voluntarily resign and receive an early retirement severance package. These employees have until 5:00 p.m. on September 24 to decide whether they will participate in the Early Retirement Program. Once we know who has accepted the Early Retirement offer, we will proceed with an involuntary reduction in force during October.

The involuntary reduction in force will focus first on current job functions management believes can be discontinued altogether. All positions tied to these functions will be eliminated. Job functions that remain necessary, but that may require fewer employees to perform than we currently have in place, will be identified next. In those situations, an objective, uniform selection process will be utilized to determine which employees from each position will be selected for termination. This selection process will be based on performance assessment ratings. Years of service will be used in the event performance assessments are not definitive. Employees selected for termination will have the opportunity to receive severance benefits, including severance pay, up to 3 months of subsidized COBRA coverage, and outplacement services to aid in the search for new employment. Additional details about the involuntary reduction in force process will be distributed during October.

In addition to workforce reductions, a number of other expense reduction measures have been or will be implemented, including:

- 44-inch web reduction "“ newsprint & ink savings

- Changes to the TV book and Sunday Features section "“ newsprint & ink savings

- Termination of 65 and over retiree medical plans "“ effective 1/1/09

- Elimination of personal company cars "“ effective 1/1/09

Going forward, we must also consider the potential for outsourcing certain job functions currently performed in-house. While these types of decisions would involve additional position eliminations in specific departments, we do not currently plan to conduct any additional company-wide workforce reduction plans like the one we are implementing during September and October.

The challenges we face are occurring at the same time all newspapers are experiencing escalating costs of ink, supplies and distribution (all related to oil prices), record newsprint prices and the same pressures on health care costs that all U.S. employers must deal with. That reality requires us to make these difficult decisions even though we are sensitive to the impact they will have on our employees and their families.

Despite the permanent nature of the disruption we are facing, we remain optimistic about our company's future. We are successfully building audiences for our digital-related products and platforms (NewsOK and Wimgo, for example), and even after our workforce reductions have taken place, we will maintain a number of critical competitive advantages we currently possess today, including but not limited to having the largest and most trusted news and information gathering team in Oklahoma, the largest and most professional sales and marketing team in Oklahoma, the largest newspaper, direct marketing company and news website in Oklahoma, the largest and fastest growing digital business in Oklahoma, and strong relationships with existing customers and communities.

Please know that this is the most difficult communication I have ever distributed. There are not many guarantees I can make about the future, but I promise this, that as we move forward, we will do our very best to remain true to our mission, vision and values while we navigate through our challenges, both known and unknown. I want to thank you for your past, present and future support, especially in these difficult times.
Sincerely,

David Thompson

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